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Social / Spatial Theory (SST)
A research group of the Department of Geography.
Social/Spatial Theory provides a forum to think through what theory is and does following Geography’s encounter with post-positivist continental philosophies. It gathers together theoretical work from across the other Human Geography research clusters in relation to three closely linked themes:
History of Geographical Thought
Research within the Social/Spatial Theory cluster engages in a range of projects on the history of geographical thought, focusing both on specific traditions of thought within contemporary human geography (including postcolonialism, governmentality, corporeal feminism and non-representational theories) and on the questions and problems addressed by a range of thinkers associated with poststructuralist continental philosophy (including Bergson, Bloch, Butler, de Certeau, Irigaray; Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Grosz, Heidegger, Lefebvre, Levinas).
New Spatial Grammar
Much of the work in Durham Geography can be seen as a comprehensive rethinking of the vocabulary and categories of geographical thought. Work on what could be termed the ‘new spatial grammar’ has three specific foci:
- a re-thinking of the classic vocabularies of spatial thought (such as scale (Bulkeley; MacLeod), territory (Elden), and boundaries (Amoore));
- a sustained engagement with the implications for spatial thought of the emergence of performative and/or practice based ontologies (Amin; Anderson; Crang; Harrison; Painter);
- the development of conceptual vocabularies that are able to attend to the 'life' of space, through work on affect, emotion, vision, embodiment, materiality and memory (Crang; Anderson; Hörschelmann; Power; Campbell; Harrison; Colls; Tolia-Kelly).
Ethics and Politics of Engagement
Research in this theme revolves around a shared imperative to think through the ways in which the questions and problems disclosed by theory can, or perhaps should, help us foster various practical means of engagement with the world. Work revolves around three questions:
- how to be attentive to the force of social differences (Hörschelmann; Colls; McEwan; Power, Pain, Tolia-Kelly)?
- how to reformulate what critique is and does and develop ways of being-critical and being-radical that go beyond standard modes of opposition (Amin; Anderson; Campbell; Smith)?
- how to be attentive to the taking-place of relations (Harrison)?
In addressing these questions we aim to develop means of being-ethical and being-political that respond to the problematics that define contemporary politics, including multiculturalism, postcolonialism, the war on terror, contemporary capitalism, and human rights.
Over the last two years the cluster has organised a yearly programme of half day workshops on a number of topics - including territory, risk and hazard, religion, vision and visuality, affective urbanism, being-critical, collective affect - alongside a series of reading groups.
- Professor Peter Atkins
- Professor Louise Amoore
- Dr Ben Anderson
- Professor Harriet Bulkeley
- Dr Angharad Closs Stephens
- Dr Rachel Colls
- Professor Michael A. Crang
- Professor Stuart Elden
- Dr Christopher Harker
- Dr Paul Harrison
- Dr Kathrin Horschelmann
- Professor Ray Hudson
- Dr Paul Langley
- Dr Gordon MacLeod
- Dr Cheryl McEwan
- Professor Joe Painter
- Professor Marcus Power
- Dr Divya P. Tolia-Kelly