Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches: Virtuality and Socio-Materiality IRS Spring Academy

I will be a ‘keynote’ at the IRS Spring Academy this year, which is concerned with ways of addressing ‘virtuality and socio-materiality’. Other speakers and contributors to the Spring Academy include: Annett Heft, Brian J. Hracs, Gertraud Koch, Daniel MaierDaniela Stoltenberg and Matt Zook.

I’ll be talking about ways of theorising space and spatial experience for ‘digital’ things. I’ve copied my abstract below, as well as the details of the Spring Academy.

This is a really good opportunity for PhD students – it is free (including travel and subsistence, as far as I can tell) and there are lots of interesting things going throughout the week. I encourage people to take a look, consider applying and/or sharing with others who might benefit from this opportunity.

My talk:

Worrying realities: spatial theory and digital geographies

As practitioners of a ‘spatial science’ geographers frequently espouse forms of ‘spatial’ theory, yet the ambiguities of mediation through technologies produces enduring disagreements over the nature of that mediation. While prominent geographical theorists have asserted a relational nature of space on the one hand, on the other –binaries of ‘real’/’virtual’ worlds remain common currency in the study and theorisation of ‘digital geographies’. There is a sense in which geographers concerned with ‘the digital’, or ‘the virtual’, continue to both worry and worry about the nature ‘reality’. This talk addresses forms of theorising and problematising ‘the digital’ for geographical research. Rather than asserting a ‘correct’ form of theory, the concern here is to attempt to tease out productive ways to theorise whatever it is that we variously address as ‘cyberspace’, ‘the digital’, mediation and ‘the virtual’. The aim is to think about what it means to ‘do theory’ in relation to such concerns. Thus while there is necessarily an abstract side to such discussions, the kinds of theorising addressed will be grounded in examples taken from contemporary research and popular culture.

IRS Spring Academy 2018

In the past two decades the interdisciplinary field between spatial and social sciences has undergone an extraordinarily dynamic development with a high potential for innovation. On the one hand, many social-scientific disciplines performed a “spatial turn” and became more interested in integrating spatial concepts and terminology. On the other hand, disciplines like human geography or spatial planning, understand space less as an exclusive object of analysis and instead emphasize a “spatial perspective” as a shared ontological ground. This has opened up a broad “trading zone” within which novel conceptualizations of space and spatiality are negotiated in an inter-disciplinary field. Against this background, the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) together with different academic partners and supported by the Volkswagen Foundation organizes a series of three successive Spring Academies entitled “Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches”.

Each event focuses on different aspects of the emergent thriving field. The opening event, on “Temporality and Procedurality”, already took place in 2017. Part 2 on “Virtuality and Socio-Materiality” is addressed with this call for applications and will take place from 22 to 25 May 2018. Part 3 on “Topologies” will follow in 2019.

The IRS Spring Academy (Part 2) is organized with the participation of the collaborative project “Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society”, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

See the full website and the call for participation (PDF).

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