Space, Postcolonial Resistance, '99 -- Postmodernism
Criticism -- IACD
The Politics of Space
Feng and Kate Liu.
Keith and Pile. "Introduction."
Place and the Politics of Identity. Eds. Michael
Keith & Steve Pile, NY: Routledge, 1993
". . . simultaneously present in any landscape are multiple enunciations
of distinct forms of space -- and these may be reconnected to the process
of re-visioning and remembering the spatialities of counter-hegemonic
Jameson, Soja, hooks' need for
location, Zukin (spatial immanence and liminal space), Spatial Relativism
Identity politics of place and spatialized politics of identity e.g. Gilroy's
Introd. Part 2.: The place of politics: Mapping The
radical contextualization and contingency
suggests that there are three basic phases in the development of the spatial
logic of society under capitalism.
1st -- market capitalism was dominated
by the spatial logic of the grid. Capitalism organized, and was organized
by, a geometrical view of space.
2nd -- monopoly capitalism, figurative
space stands in the place of absent causes. Space represents, and is represented
by, distorted images of the real determinations of social relations.
3rd -- multinational capitalism, its
spatial logic is simultaneously homogeneous and fragmented, a kind of 'schizo-space.'
. . . for Jameson, schizophrenia seems to have become the mark of the
age: old loyalties of class or gender or race fragment, dislocate, rupture,
disperse; new loyalties of class and gender and race interrupt, disrupt,
recombine, fuse. No one is quite sure of the ground on which they stand,
which direction they are facing, or where they are going. Under these circumstances,
subject is proclaimed dead; the agent of history no more.(p. 3)
the aesthetic of cognitive mapping (pp. 3-4)
Following Lefebvre, Jameson argued that what is needed, in order to
help recover the sites of resistence, is
"a new kind of spatial imagination capable of combining the past
in a new way and reading its less tangible secrets off the template of
its spatial structures¡Xbody, cosmos, city, as those marked the
more intangible organization of culture and libidinal economies and linguistic
forms" (underline added; 1991: 364-5).
4) -- compared with Jameson
Both Soja and Jameson share a common concern for spatiality, partly
because this term is designed to reinstate space at the heart of a dynamic
conception of time-space relations. But Soja wants to locate his argument
on different terrain from Jameson; while Jameson sees space as a process
of distance, Soja would rather treat distance as a dialectic between separation
and the desire to be close. This leaves the question of the individual's
occupation of subject positions in a different conceptual place. For
Jameson, the individual is to be mapped by the spatial specificity of their
subject positions, in order to uncover the hidden human geography of
power, but Soja's schema suggests that even this dynamic understanding
of the situation is too solid: space is not an innocent backdrop to position,
is itself filled with politics and ideology.
(pp. 4 - ) -- the dynamics of space
"We must be insistently aware of how space can be made to hide consequences
from us, how relations of power and discipline are inscribed into the apparently
innocent spatiality of social life, how human geographies become filled
with politics and ideology" (Soja 1989: 6)
two illusions: The illusion of opaqueness
has led to a concentration on concrete forms, where space is fixed, dead
and undialectical. What is lost from view are 'the deeper social origins
of spatiality, its problematic production and reproduction, its contextualization
of politics, power and ideology' (124).
The illusion of transparency dematerializes
space, it becomes an abstraction, a supposedly real representation of concrete
forms: 'spatiality is reduced to a mental construct alone¡K'
connects the representation of space to actual space. Having made this
connection, Soja is able to argue that the contemporary situation is marked
by the convergence of three different kinds of spatialization: posthistoricism,
post-Fordism and postmodernism.
¡¥geography and history of capitalism intersect in a complex
social process which creates a constantly evolving historical sequence
of spatialities¡¦ (127)
Soja vs. hooks 5
For Jameson, space is a template, while for Soja, such a geometrical
conception of space is passive, fixed, undialectical and no longer appropriate.
For hooks, both these perspective involve risks and danger which are directly
political; for those who have no place that can be safely called home,
there must be a struggle for a place to be. Her evocation of the margins
is simultaneously real and metaphorical -- it defines an alternative
spatiality: radical openness. A different sense of place is being theorized,
no longer passive, no longer fixed, no longer undialectical--because disruptive
features interrupt any tendency to see once more open space as the passive
receptacle for any social process that cares to fill it -- but, still,
in a very real sense about location and locatedness.
hooks -- "As a radical strandpoint, perspective, position, 'the politics
of location' necessarily calls those of us who would participate in the
formation of counter-hegemonic cultural practice to identify the spaces
where we begin the process of re-vision."
Instead, it may be argued that simultaneously present in any landscape
are multiple enunciations of distinct forms of space¡Xand these
may be reconnected to the process of re-visioning and remembering the spatialities
of counter hegemonic cultural practices. We may now use the term 'spatiality'
to capture the ways in which the social and spatial are inextricably
realized one in the other; to conjure up the circumstances in which
society and space are simultaneously realized by thinking, feeling, doing
individuals and also to conjure up the many different conditions in which
such realizations are experienced by thinking, feeling, doing subjects.(6)
myth of spatial immanence (e.g. Zukin's landscape of power)
Sharon Zukin: describing the manner in which landscapes of
power may triumph over the vernacular.
liminal spaces: "She argues
that the localism, or neghbourhood urbanism, of the modern city has been
transformed into postmodern transitional space. This space
is 'betwixt and between' economic institutions but is best described by
the adjective liminal because it 'complicates the effort to construct
identtiy' (1992: 122). Liminal spaces are ambiguous and ambivalent,
they slip between global market and local place, between public use and
private value, between work and home, between commerce and culture." (7).
"market" (the economic forces that detach people from established social
"place" (the spatial form that anchor [people] to the social world, providing
basis of a stable identity)
critique: She time and again returns to an evocation of a singular
immanent meaning which lies buried beneath the surface and awaits revelation.
A scene is either 'landscape' or 'vernacular' . . .
of spatial relativism
politics of place and spatialized
politics of identity
[the resistance of Docklands' people as an example]
Gilroy: diaspora 17-
his project appears to work on narrative and conceptual levels, with
the notion of an imagined spatiality of disporic politics serving to mediate
these tensions. At the level of historical narrative, the project stresses
the international links between Black intellectuals throught the last hundred
years and more; ¡K
..the diaspora invokes an imagined geography, a spatiality that
draws on connections across oceans and continents and yet unifies the Black
experience inside a shared territory. ¡Ka spatialization
of Black consciousness
¡K the diaspora is an invocation of communal space which is
simultaneously both inside and outside the West. The outcome of such
positioning is a form of cultural fusion; such syncretism produces
diaspora-specific resources of resistance, ¡K
the spatiality of the diaspora is the ground on which momentary and
ever-shifting lines are draw between inside and outside, oppressor and
oppressed, the same and the other.
These lines stress interconnection as much as distinction,
but they produce a space in which identities are momentarily authenticated,
on which what might be called arbitrary closure occurs. Rejecting
both essentialized and depthlessless representations of Black idenity,
Gilroy's diaspora is the spatiality which contingently mediates Black authority,
in the explicit knowledge that an imagined space of diaspora is located
within global systems that not only make such claims context-specific,
but also make communication through the myriad forms of cultural syncretism
[Bhabha's liminal form of cultural identification. ]
Introd. Part 2¡XThe place of politics¡XMapping
two routes: (p. 22)
Laclau's idea of identity¡Xnegativity and
track the evocations of the spatial, particularly the city as simultaneously
real and imaginary, suggesting that Rushdie draws ¡K on a notion
that the urban invokes a multiplicities of spatialities simultaneously
present. [use Lefebvre]
traces the notions of impurity and hybridity which are so central
to the novel and suggests that this leads us into an understanding of identities
defined as much by what they lack as by what they include. [use Laclau]
¡Kidentity emerges through difference, just as all object formation
is alwyas partial because always relational. This negativity is the source
of what Laclau draws on extensively in a concept of the constitutive
outside. This is the source of his well-known diagnosis that society
can never be wholly constituted as an object of scrutiny, ¡K
--weakening the boundary of essence through the radical contextualization
of any object
28 ¡KLaclau draws implicitly on Lacan to work through the concept
of identity formation set within these fields of (negative differences,
being articulated through that which it is not (negativity in
Laclau¡¦s terms) and through the historical moment of enunciation
(referred to as contingency). Difference becomes located
difference within a relational field: ¡¥what one gets is a field
of simply relational identities which never manage to constitute themselves
fully, since relations do not form a closed system¡¦ (20-21).
¡KThere is no identity outside of its context: ¡¥Identity
depends on conditions of existence which are contingent, its relationship
with them is absolutely necessary¡¦ (21).
--the political (that which is contested) and the social (those practices
that are sedimented in time and uncontested) define each other by their
¡¥The constitution of a social identity is an act of power
and that identity as such is power¡¦ (31)
incomplete identity ¡Vdislocation 29
"every identity is dislocated insofar as it depends on an
which both denies that identity and provides its conditions of possibility
at the same time. But this in itself means that the effects of dislocation
must be contradictory. If on the one hand they threaten identities,
they are the foundation on which new identities are constituted" (39).
Relativism v.s. politics of identity 31
Haraway "The alternative to relativism is partial, locatable, critical
knowledges sustaining the possibility of webs of connections called solidarity
in politics and shared conversations in epistemology. Relativism
is a way of being nowhere while claiming to be everywhere equally.
[1991: 191]" (31: underline added ) .
"The Spaces that Difference
Some Notes on the Geographical
Margins of the New Cultural Politics"
Edward Soja and Barbara Hooper pp. 183-205
Soja on spatial politics
the differences between modernist identity politics and postmodernist identity
from resistance in binary structure to "empowering a multiplicity of
Spatialized identity politics:
hooks' marginality as radical openness
Trinh Minh-ha's displacement "By actively displacing and disordering difference,
by insisting that there are 'no master territories', one struggles to prevent
'this classifying world from exerting its ordered, binary, categorical
Diana Fuss "'We really only have the leisure to idealize the subversive
potential of the power of the marginal when our place of enunciation is
quite central' [Fuss 1991: 5]" (194)
Spivak -- defends the position of the third world intellectuals; remapping;
"Thinking synchronically, in the precise (spatial) circumstances
of the present [postmodern] moment, Spivak positions herself as a bricoleur,
preserver of discontinuities, an interruptive critic of the categorical
logic of colonizer-colonized, elite-subaltern, global-local, ... (195)
Gillian Rose -- politics of paradoxical space