, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 29-41

Rethinking space: an outsider’s view of the spatial turn

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Abstract

Geographical concerns with space and place have escaped the confines of the discipline of geography. Many humanities scholars now invoke such conceptions as a means to integrate diverse sources of information and to understand how broad social processes play out unevenly in different locations. The social production of spatiality thus offers a rich opportunity to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogues between different schools of critical theory. Following a brief assessment of the spatial turn in history, history of science, and political philosophy, this paper explores its implications for literary and cultural studies. It invokes a detailed case study of late 18th century Lima, Peru to explicate the dynamics of colonialism, the construction of racial identities, and different power/knowledge configurations within a particular locale. Space in this example appears as both matter and meaning, i.e., as simultaneously tangible and intangible, as a set of social circumstances and physical landscapes and as a constellation of discourses that simultaneously reflected, constituted, and at times undermined, the hegemonic social order. The intent is to demonstrate how multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary scholarship can be facilitated by paying attention to the unique of circumstances that define places within given historical moments. As seen in this example from literary colonial studies, other disciplines, therefore, can both draw from and contribute to poststructuralist interpretations of space as a negotiated set of situated practices.