The Politics of Place: Spatial thinking in the social sciences
21 April – 9 May 2017
€300 WASS; €600 non-WASS
Coordination: Joost Jongerden
In collaboration with:
Today, the concept of socially produced or constructed space appears in publications with little apparent need for justification or explanation. Yet it was not so long ago that “space” was generally ignored in social theory. It was generally accepted that sociology had a historical rationality. During most of the 19th and 20th centuries, sociology was concerned with explaining (and forecasting) the making of the world, applying a preconceived picture of what modernity was supposed to be. Conceptualizations like “stages of development”, “phases”, and “backwardness” were expressions of the social as intervals on a time-scale. Difference was explained from a perspective of stage or phase difference, thus time. Eventually, the obsession with time and history in modern thought came together with a loss of a “spatial consciousness.” In this course, we critically engage with the spatial turn in social sciences. Building upon a brief introduction into the return of spatial thinking in the social sciences since the 1970s, we will discuss three themes: our understanding of the local in relation to one of the key-concerns in development studies, the social organization of time and space in global capitalism, constructions of the rural in relation to the urban and constructions of nature in relation to the emergence of a new political economy.
The course “Spatial thinking in the social sciences” is intended for PhD candidates in the social, environmental, and political sciences. In this course, we will move between close reading of texts, workshops, and discussion. Students following this course will not only learn to think about place as an analytical category, but also learn to “work with place,” by applying various perspectives to concrete cases.