Thinking Space

Thinking Space

Thinking Space

Thinking Space


As theorists have begun using geographical concepts and metaphors to think about the complex and differentiated world, it is important to reflect on their work, and its impact on our thoughts on space. This revealing book explores the work of a wide range of prolific social theorists. Included contributions from an impressive range of renowned geographical writers, each examine the work of one writer - ranging from early this century to contemporary writers.Among the writers discussed are Georg Simmel, Mikhail Bakhtin, Gilles Deleuze, Helene Cixous, Henri Lefebvre, Jacques Lacan, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault and Franz Fanon. Ideal for those interested in the 'spatial turn' in social and cultural theory, this fascinating book asks what role space plays in the work of such theorists, what difference (if any) it makes to their concepts, and what difference such an appreciation makes to the way we might think about space.


While scanning the shelves in the basement of San Francisco’s famous City Lights Books recently, Charlie noticed a new section across from ‘Commodity Aesthetics’ called ‘Topographies’. Although it was still being filled, it was clear that it would include books not only from the traditional ‘terrain’ of cultural geography, but also from less established fields for which thinking about spaces and places is a primary concern, from gender studies to the study of virtual reality. What the books there all have in common is a desire to ‘map’ some aspect of contemporary life, whether literally or metaphorically. As many people have been saying, ‘Space is hot’.

(Bertsch and Sterne 1994)

This is a book about the relationships between space and theory, inspired by developments within and beyond the discipline of geography. Within the discipline there has been a burgeoning interest in social thought that has both extended and pluralised the influences drawn upon by geographers. Beyond the discipline social thought appeared to be increasingly smitten with a geographical idiom of margins, spaces and borders. However, this spatial turn was not a cause for a disciplinary triumphalism that others were turning to geography since much of it seemed resolutely ignorant of geographers and geography as a discipline. Indeed, it seemed at various times to show both deliberate ignorance of geography while—lest anyone might become chauvinistic or proprietary over the claims of the discipline—also displaying how limited much geographical thought had been.

But we were still worried that much of the geographical sensitivity to spatial terms was missing in social thought. Sometimes, a spatialised vocabulary seemed a way of drawing in a natural grounding to sustain and enable various theoretical manoeuvres. Yet, deploying the theoretical sensitivities of contemporary social thought within the discipline had problematised and denaturalised many of these terms and groundings.

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