Space, Postcolonial Resistance, '99 -- Postmodernism
Criticism -- IACD
Soja, Edward. "Reassertions: Towards a Spatialized Ontology." Postmodern
Geographies. London: Verso, 1989. 118-137.
Thesis: To recover [spatiality] from the historicist devaluation,
to make space visible again as a fundamental referent of social being,
requires a rethinking not only of the concreteness of capitalist spatial
practices but also of the philosophizing abstractions of modern ontology
and epistemology (119-20).
I. Materiality and Illusion in the Conceptualization of Space
Definition/premises of spatiality:
1. Spatiality is a substantiated and recognizable social product,
part of a "second nature" which incorporates as it socializes and transforms
both physical and psychological spaces.
a. spatiality is socially produced and exists in both substantial forms
and as a set of relations between individuals and groups.
2. As a social product, spatiality is simultaneously the medium and
outcome, presupposition and embodiment, of social action and relationship.
b. Spatiality can be distinguished from the physical space of material
nature and the mental space of cognition and representation, both are used
and incorporated into the social construction of spatiality but cannot
be considered as its equivalent. --
The assertion of (social) spatiality shatters the traditional physical-mental
dualism and forces a major reinterpretation of the materiality of space,
time and being. (120)
c. "Second nature"--Soja borrows Neil Smith's theory of "the social
production of nature" to discuss "the social production of spatiality"
c.f. Nicos Poulantzas defines the spatial and temporal matrices of
capitalism, its material groundedness, as simultaneously presuppositions
and embodiments of the relations of production (118-19).
3. The spatial-temporal structuring of social life defines how
social action and relationship (including class relations) are materially
constituted, made concrete.
c.f. Soja's critique of the illusions of opaqueness or illusions of
transparency in spatial theorization (122-26)
4. The constitution/concretization process is problematic, filled
with contradiction and struggle (amidst much that is recursive and routinized).
5. Contradictions arise primarily from the duality of produced
space as both outcome/embodiment/product and medium/presupposition/producer
of social activity.
6. Concrete spatiality--actual human geography--is thus a competitive
arena for struggles over social production and reproduction, for social
practices aimed either at maintenance and reinforcement of existing spatiality
or at significant restructuring and/or radical transformation.
7. The temporality of social life, from routines and events
of day-to-day activity to the longer-run making of history, is rooted in
spatial contingency in much the same way as the spatiality of social life
is rotted in temporal/historical contingency.
8. The materialist interpretation of history and the materialist
interpretation of geography are inseparably intertwined and theoretically
concomitant, with no inherent prioritization of one over the other.
==> to make rational assertion of a social-spatial dialectic, a historical
and geographical materialism, a space-time structuration of social life.
II. Spatialized Ontology (the meta-theoretical discourse): on the Existential
Spatiality of Being
1. Human beings alone are able to objectify the world by setting themselves
apart, creating a gap, a distance, a space. This process of objectification
defines he human situation and predicates it upon spatiality.
2. To be human is not only to create distances but to attempt to cross
them, to transform primal distance through intentionality, emotion, involvement,
==>Martin Buber: human consciousness arises from the interplay of distancing