Academic journal article Knowledge Cultures

Moving towards the Trialectics of Space, Disability, and Intersectionality: Intersecting Spatiality and Arts-Based Visual Methodologies

Academic journal article Knowledge Cultures

Moving towards the Trialectics of Space, Disability, and Intersectionality: Intersecting Spatiality and Arts-Based Visual Methodologies

Article excerpt

Introduction

Geographical imagination and spatial justice has never been more momentous (Soja, 2010). As Said (1993: 7) declares, "None of us is beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography." Yet, the significance of space continues to be underestimated and disconnected in societal and historical processes. Across institutions of higher education, this is particularly evident as institutional diversity disputes continue to surface in a myriad of ways. There is pushback to address and facilitate a culture of diversity and inclusion, especially for the marginalized populations of students, faculty, staff, and administrators. The changes include updating tenure criteria with a requirement that candidates participate in structuring inclusive, diverse, and collaborative environments (Jaschik, 2016), increasing the number of underrepresented minority faculty and students (Flaherty, 2016; Logue, 2016), implementing diversity training among the staff, adding diversity and inclusion to the university's core values (Logue, 2016), and enacting a separate student government to ensure representation of minority students and their needs (New, 2016). This paper contributes to this current dialogue by discussing the significance of consideration of space and its implications for higher education and institutional diversity.

In educational theory, there is a growing body of significant research that considers the role of architecture and social-spatial dynamics on campuses. The evolution of the built and spatial organization of campuses elucidates the institutions' history, mission, intents, pedagogical ideals, and identity (Calvo-Sotelo, 2001; Edwards, 2000; Neuman, 2003; Temple, 2008). Accordingly to Dayton Reuter, "the campus is not just leftover spaces between buildings. It is, in fact, a series of designed spaces that reflect the value an institution wishes to be known for. It is a culturally dynamic complex landscape setting" (Neuman, 2003: 2). The application of geographical imagination discloses how ideologies, norms, and culture continuously construct citizenship, policies, and access within the trialectics of social, historical, and spatial considerations (Gulson & Symes, 2008; Kenway & Youndell, 2011; Samura, 2010). In particular, with disability and educational spaces, themes of representation (Siebers, 2003; Young, 2008; 2011), segregation (Gabel, Cohen, Kotel, & Pearson, 2013; Young, 2008; 2011), and inclusion (Bodaghi & Zainab, 2013; Dyment & Bell, 2008) emerge; however, further research into the socio-spatial relationship between the physical surroundings and occupiers of higher education is needed (Samura, 2010).

In contrast, a significant body of literature stemming from Marxist geographers emerged during the 1970s to rectify the marginalization of geography and space, in particular, with social theories and their tendencies to privilege social and temporal processes and relations. Focusing solely on the socio-historical processes and relations, Western social theories consider space in the linear context of how social processes shape geography. As Soja (1989; 1996; 2010) notes, there is no deliberation of geography's role in shaping, perpetuating, or maintaining social processes. However, according to Soja (1980; 1989; 2010), the marginalization of geographical structures is unintentional as the dominant positivist hegemony of geography views space as a neutral material backdrop. Nevertheless, the reassertion of geography into the social-historical relationship proposes space "is not an empty void. It is always filled with politics, ideology and other forces shaping our lives and challenging us to engage in struggles over geography" (Soja, 2010: 19). Intersecting social and historical relationships with space, as fluid, historical, contested, and stratified, offers access and alternative approaches to the intricacy of social processes. Thus, as Said (1993: 7) notes, "That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images, and imaginings. …

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