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Review: Keeping Space Open Author(s): Edward W. Soja Source: Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol.

89, No. 2 (Jun., 1999), pp. 348-353 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Association of American Geographers Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2564263 . Accessed: 30/03/2011 14:18
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Forum BookReview land never-never ofreal-andoff intotheblurry act How marginality? can anybody in a imagined or anydefinitional locational space thatdefies or is there no realsubstance or anchoring, where the This maybe Ed Soja's world, grounding? But academic. transnational of world an on-line wantoutofmarmarginal peoplewhomight for wanta pieceofthepieinthe who ginality, might In make-believe. it Firstspace, all soundsrather to the finalanalysis-to revert an older wispoliticsand dom-the real worldof practical gets always lived building alliance transformative That of andactedoutintheFirstspace. is a world of and of and right wrong, truth falsity, lifeand of and death,of dogmatism tanks, demosand and There it is ofteneither/or, no nightsticks. Let or solution possible permissible. us is third yet: a in linger theFirstspace whilelonger there we greet as comrades. you

book,and it goesall theway through entire the intohisontology. there bit And,finally, isa "little ofBaudrillard." he and hard Soja claims is"a lateaddition" works Frenchphilosopher to insert controversial the Alas, Soja into the laterphasesof Thirdspace. in Baudrillard's concephimself thefoot: shoots demolishes any effectively tionof"simulacrum" given that from outset, the notion Thirdspace of now get colFirst and Second and Thirdspace notionof hyperlapsedintosome nonsensical to is reality. Whatisleft an incapacity distinguish moments Soja's of between threedifferent the and episearlier outlined trialectics, presumably or nowdissolve ontology, is into temology would what thatthe otherway around?Meanwhile, if remains intact we areunableto kind politics of betweenreal and imagined spaces? distinguish a Soundsto me thatwithout guiding principle a from reality fantasy, lot of people separating of could get hurt.(The radicalpolitics cloudin Indeed,one wonders the end cuckoo-land?) is Ed whatsort politics Soja himself espousing of remains after inThirdspace? Whatsort politics of has everything been decentredand deconand and shifted structed disrupted destabilized,

Reof Lefebvre, 1976. SurvivalCapitalism: Henri. The
London: of of productiontheRelations Production.

Allison Busby. &

KeepingSpace Open
W Edward Soja and Policy SocialResearch SchoolofPublic of Department UrbanPlanning, Los of University California, Angeles
thata good,construcbelieved I have always sumgoeswellbeyond bookreview tively critical a marizing contentsand offering simple the overon or opinion thebook's thumbs-up -down It a all quality. aimsat achieving balancedand own the dialogue between reviewer's stimulating matter thepoints and personal onthesubject take text. in ofviewpresented thewritten This does equal are praise criticism given and notmeanthat debate like some television timeand weight, that assessshow. Noris itnecessary thecritical in ment confined to whatis emphasized only be are thetext hand, someofthebestreviews at for position creative of elaborations the reviewer's be thatmay peripheral andperspective issues on The three critical to thoseofthebook'sauthor. in succeedto someextent reviews Thirdspace of diaand up opening sucha balanced informative time for the and logue, I thank reviewers their and deEach raises issuesand arguments key effort. perspecown riving thereviewer's particular from tive on contemporaryspatial theory and adehavenotdealtwith that theorizing I either havetooexuberin or quately Thirdspace perhaps zeal. in antly overstated myspatializing diathe however, critical degrees, To varying sidelogueopenedup becomesunproductively arenasofdebate defined tracked intoarbitrarily trajecto related thecareer that seemtobe more of experiences the intellectual and tories personal I havewritten. Seemthan reviewers to anything poststructuralby too inspired literally those ingly at of aboutthe"death theauthor," istarguments of blunt of leasttwo thereviewers theimpact their for target me by critique setting up as a symbolic wherever authority a ritual slaying hegemonic of

BookReview Forum


it exists. Such tempting diversions makefor may alternative voicesthatcan be used not just to entertaining reading, itis informative but dialogue enhanceourunderstandingLefebvre, also of but thantheauthor mostoften with rather that dies to expandthe interpretive scope of the critical suchtactics, whenthey especially lead to serious geographical imagination increase releand the misrepresentations bookbeing ofthe reviewed. vanceofa livedspace/Thirdspace perspective to to My first response the reviews, put it to our understanding important of contemporary mildly, disappointment. rather was But thanreissues relating urbanism, to cultural politics, and withsimilarly offensive sponding atadjectival socialand spatial justice. he this Although takes tackson thepersonal virtues thereviewers, of I opening in directions are informatively up that have decidedto searchthrough reviews the different mine, would tothink the from for I like that whatI consider be their to most and stimulating overalltone of Shields's essayand its thematic constructive invitations dialogue.I will reto play on geographical Greek choruses and to in spond these issupportive a common invitations, part, clarifyfew to a chorographies of effort to of the arguments developedin Thirdspace that expandtheinterpretive power critical of spatial appear meto havebeenmisinterpreted to bythe analysis thelevelsalready to achieved critical for reviewers. mainobjective, My however, notto is socialandhistorical This inquiry. effort rebalto defend what I have written to keep open but ance our understandings spatiality, of sociality, debateand discussion several issuescurandhistoricality beenat thecoreofmy on has work key forthe past twodecades.Lefebvre rently facingthe discipline Geography of that provides an might obscured either views thoseof be if my rich for or extraordinarily foundation thisproject, thereviewers taken literally. but we mustmovebeyond provocative his are intoo I begin with Rob Shields, hiselegant for little here:theGreek sights. Onlyone small complaint is and essay themost informatively pointed least root choir chorus for and [XopI; isnotthesame sidetracked. While think toonarrowly as therootfor I selfishly he placeorterritory despite [Xopoq], confines to Thirdspace beinga texton Lefebvre, thetempting in similaritypronunciation. Shieldsnotes the book's shortcomings, gently Lefebvre more even Following than intimately provides alternative an view,and manages, in I have,Shields infuses review a sensitivity his with mostcases, to deflect immediate my reaction to Love and Struggle his (referencing ownforthhis is whatI wastrying (that alternative really to coming book), alongwitha touchof the pansay)by opening interesting possibilities up new for sexualerotic hiswry reference Deleuzeon to (see reinterpretation. forexample, skeptiTake, his theimpregnating in conceptual inherent buggery cismabout"Thirdspace" seeming be a reified to philosophical writing). even Lefebvre, orperhaps noun rather thanan actionwordthatdenotes in returned a especially his Marxism, to always bothan achieved stateofaffairs an ongoing, and discussion love,poetry, the reign the and of of recombinative "rolling" or processof developin and Spirit histexts, Shields notes correctly that mentand performativity. mybestto deI tried I add nothing understanding Love and to why. scribe concept theexpanded the and scopeofthe if Struggle sweepthereview alongtoitsspiritual, that it geographical imagination goesalongwith whereShieldscaptures ambivalent, conclusion, in justsucha combined dynamic butif and way, whathe callsthe"third in element" a transcenthisis notwhatcomesthrough theinformed dentmoment escapefrom "unmappable" to of the reader,then my presentation significantly and "dualistic" is dialecticbetweenthe material flawed. I withLePerhaps shouldhave stayed and themental, realand theimagined, the the febvre called and, morestraightforwardly, the and perceived-commonsensical the conceivedthe bookLived reifiable theoretical (p. 340). Here he defineslived Space, avoiding useofany ordinal numbers trinities. as Shields and But aptly and I as spaceirbirdspace what described a critical withLefebvre notes,remaining exclusively has method "Thirding-as-Othering" of ina different way, serious withregard into drawbacks, especially morepsychoanalytically and intractable, cryptic the of and in corporating vitalconcepts alterity difmore rooted themicrogeographies ofintimacy, ference critical into We spatial thinking. can all the the desire, sexuality, body, unconscious, yet is whileendlessly agreethatLefebvre, less accessible to conventionalgeographical inspiring, notenough. analysis. As I tried do,Shields to callsfor opening an In doing Shields up so, neatly exposes vulnermy ofLefebvre's triad in provocative ofperceived, conthat to ability Thirdspace a critique I havegiven of ceived,and livedspacesto a wider"chorus" insufficient attention the psychoanalytical to


BookReview Forum weaklydeveloped.Yet therestillseems to be excurthese something isconstraining wider that of onlya relatively smallnumber sions, allowing outto geographers be recognized self-identified to fold. sidethedisciplinary Attempting explain a and to find wayto imbalance thisperplexing more effectively to challenge geographers engage of debates thespatiality human on inthese larger in lifewas one ofmykeyobjectives Thirdspace, footnotes. bothin the textand in the running overstated but This well-intentioned probably may and geographers challengeto Geography of the deal to do with undercurrent have a great the two that to angry reaction seems infuse other reviews. roasttoo to Responding indirectly thegeneric geographers othand from feminist ingI received (1989), I spoke Geographies ers forPostmodemn I one Looking way, with facesin Thirdspace. two commitmentfemito my chosetoproject explicit approthrough I sawas a more what nist struggles priately balanced politicsof class, race, and of best gender exemplified inthework such"radical womenof color"as bell hooks,GloriaAnzaldua, and GayatriSpivak,as well as other maleand fescholars, feminist postcolonial and vivid unusually geographical male, whodisplayed I usedthis commitin writings. imaginationstheir cheekso muchas to the ment to turn other not turnaroundand challenge, somewouldsayatto is feminist geography what considered for tack, to weak contributions the be its relatively debateson space and spatial transdisciplinary Patricia Price, As theory. I used a quote from to as writing PatriciaPrice-Chalita, exemplify was feminist geograwhatI thought constraining to contributing effectively these more phyfrom not I debatesand discussions,should havebeen of thattheold tactics symbolito surprised find "scholarslike Soja" (her words, cally slaying male whitestraight p. 342), set up as targeted academicprivilege, of geographers substantial in werestill force. was to review tostrike reaction Price's Myfirst on of back,playing hercritique my"deadening" of and resolution the playfulness "lighthearted" involved incorporating in posthard problems into and poststructuralism critical modernism a analysis 342). Wasbeing femi(p. geographical so necessarily dourand humornistgeographer less? Must one worry so much about as to and postmodernism poststructuralism becomefrozen darkdespair, in unableto use either of one to advance our understanding human

literature to thoseintimate and geographies, integrally wrappedinto lived space/Thirdspace, that account much itsultimate for of unknowabilityand mystery. There is thusgood reasonto elaborate upon theirintrinsic relevance my to arguments, especially respect theillusive with to qualities perceived-material conceivedof and mental geographies. as Lefebvre But argued, for allitsinterpretive psychoanalysis one power, isbut ofmany transdisciplinary to"thread ways through the complexities the modern of world." What mostdistinguished Lefebvre's workand thatof few commitvery others was not his uncritical mentto such transdisciplinary perspectives as psychoanalysis, literary criticism, discourse analysis,structuralism, existentialism, linguistics, critical historiography, theory, social and Marxism, criticalphilosophy, ratherhis committed but choiceofspace hisprimary as interpretive thread, it and using with passion political insight weave to all and together ofthesecomprehensive integrativemodesofinquiry. have perhaps ambiI too to tiously tried follow similar a pathin myown a writings, putting criticalspatialperspective aheadofallothers. Thatthis choice tooeasily can be interpreted an evangelical as spatialism that, or other difand intentionallyotherwise, ignores ferent and commitments scholarly projects will continue be a validand valuablecriticism to of is mywork. hope,however, thattheseconMy structive remains criticismswhat of develweakly of oped in the critical foregrounding a spatial do from others perspective notprevent adopting a similar project. Shields his reserves highest for footpraise my notes(amI missing so something here?), perhaps itis appropriate pickup and expandon a side to comment hisreview. After thatnearly in noting in all myreferences marshaling my postup thinkers Lefebvre choir spatial of not come, from but the discipline Geography, from of critical cultural studies related and areas,he asks:"Are cultural these suchdrought-times critical for geographers?" 340). (p. Shouldnotgeographers at theforefront be of the whatmanyare now calling spatialturn, an of unprecedented contemporary resurgence the critical to spatialimagination? answer both My thesequestions a qualified I believethat is yes. as should at theforebe Geography a discipline front this of spatial turn, expanding scopeof the critical aboutspace,place,location, citthinking and the environment into areas ies, regions, wheresuch thinking heretofore has been only

Forum BookReview conhowever, comebacks, Such spatiality? clever ofthe little tribute toourunderstanding challengraises ingissuesPriceeffectively in her review, development to thatarecrucial thefuture issues a and racist, elitist ofwhatremains masculinist, is dialogue too Critical of discipline Geography. to be especially-to reduced rare-in Geography how no name -calling, matter entertaining mutual Womenin Space suchbattles overMen versus It reader. is timeto work maybe to theaverage rather our to to together try dealwith resolvable, for differences, thereis too thanunresolvable, muchat stake. facing critiissues important Among most the todayare thosethatconcal humangeography and cernvoice,alterity, whatsomenowcall the to The of tyrannies difference. response these thatthosemost issuesmustbeginby insisting to to to silenced allowed speak, be listened and be roommust from. at thesametime, But learned the other different voices alsobe madefor many to thatsharein commona commitment progand inside as projects intellectual political ressive of Bewellas outside discipline Geography. the combination experiences of causeofherunusual as a radicalblackwomanin the U.S. and her to poliacute particularly sensitivity thecultural ticsofspace,I drew extensively upon (and continue to look to) bell hooks as an especially coaliof explorer these and inspiring stimulating of and tionalcommunities commitment resistance to all formsof human oppression, her She and domination, exploitation. condenses in creatively spatialargument a phrasethat I if use-call it "appropriate"youwish-in an atto scope of the tempt expandthe interpretive the beyond innovative imagination geographical Facedwith and reframingsLefebvre Foucault. of attacks from blacknationalists, personal frequent and privileged whitefeminists, less financially us invites hooksnevertheless junioracademics, as in the all to participate "choosing margin a This of openness." choice marginspaceofradical that the doesnotignore imposed marginality ality of whodonothave vast oppresses numbers people to insteadto the opportunity choose.It works kindofmargin can act that reconstitute another and as a strategic space of solidarity resistance and despair. enterthis To rather thandivision a of crossing borders, a spaceinvolves subversive and of downof all forms exclusionary breaking and essentialist politics, a decidedmovebeyond manversus white versus black,capital woman, versus and versus socialism, the labor, capitalism


biimposed) (and divisively divisive many other too that nary oppositions havefor longfostered makes Yes, of thetyrannies difference. privilege not but this choicemucheasier, thesamemay be and true thecommitment thepraxis. for to my questions commitmentandunderPrice conception openspatial radically of standing this resomedirect and ofmarginality, she deserves of Am I, a white malegeographer some sponse. substantialprofessionaladvantage, able to hope so, and I choose the margins? certainly to positioned join in the similarly invite others set downthebarriers up by of project breaking well-intentioned, if narrow-minded, politically meanthatI and"scholars Does gatekeepers. this dealt likeSoja" have sufficiently withthecominvolvedin thischoice and labored mitments as our to enough "unlearn privilege ourloss," hard No, phrase? demanding Spivak's to use Gayatri is marginality not choosing not yet,forsimply all Thereremains-for thoseprivileged enough. and with accessto thepagesoftheAnnals other journals-the hard taskof setting professional or entitlements, even aside our empowering for full accepting responsibility the opharder, suchprivileges. with associated pressions in to follow Do I effectively through Thirdspace with writings a successmy infuse geographical polito commitment a spatial constructive fully than that tics of marginality connectsrather over struggles and separates compartmentalizes for Not enough, again class,race,and gender? needs that is more andfor ofus,there so much all how we writeabout to be done in reshaping that therefore I Can geography. itbe concluded sustains claims, as havewrittenbookthat, Price a dismayof a canonbasedon a system privilege, and the overmodern oversimplifies debates ingly engagesin the worst geographies, postmodern and powerplaysof bothmodernism postmodfailsto graspthe messagesof Other ernism, the dismisses contributoo voices, lightheartedly arroand of tions feminist geographers, indulges The in playfulness? gantly dialogue-deadening too for here rhetoric is too thick me to respond, of overloadedwiththe equivalent askingme as I being evilas I wasten whetherhavestopped Price's ownphrase, using ago. years All I can say, less is thatI toolongfor ofthesame. for reviews, whatShields Priceroottheir and issueofhow everfaults may they have,inthekey and alterity, a difference, to better incorporate to commitment social and spatialjusticeinto and thinking writing. geographical contemporary


Forum BookReview spaces and or duction, in theconceived symbolic

littlemore presents however, AndyMerrifield, itself passing glibness of thana display adjectival wit, is For critique. all itsfrantic this off clever as mistakes false and with careless so a review filled that accusations it wipesout thefewsignificant it points has to make.Here arejusta fewofits misreadings. offhanded me of Whilelecturing on hisversion Marxism, thatI claims Merrifield and dialectics, Lefebvre, certain "crucial" passages overlook" "strategically aboutthediaof ofLefebvre's Survival Capitalism (p. no to clinging historicity 344). Yet lectic longer senwithbotha preceding thequotedpassage, from differs thatof tenceon how thisdialectic Marx and Hegel (a keypointthat Merrifield clear of and elaboration Lefebvre's omits) a fuller (perhaps dialectical thinking attempt spatialize to appears part themost"crucial" ofhisargument) alongwithan extended on p. 44 ofThirdspace, whythe restof Merridiscussion thatclarifies sophomoric. field's lecture tousehisownterm, is, askedto I Laterin the review, am pedantically Marxtalks where 3 volume ofCapital, remember and oftheHolyTrinity Land,Labor, Capital, of of in my overlooking discussion this blithely again is to thetextMerrifield supposed be reviewing. Lefebvre when was on, Moving he asksmewhere it of I lookedat Amsterdam, unaware, seems, my influspecific of elaboration Lefebvre's lengthy his After ence on the writing thischapter. of of he trashing Baudrillard, raises simple-minded aboutcontemposomevery questions pertinent bein politics an age whenthe difference rary has tweenthe real and the imagined become he time has shot but increasingly blurred, bythis are in himself thefoot often hisarguments so that lamed. decidedly The worst exampleof such falseaccusation as comeswhenMerrifield masquerading critique to me my pushes to rethink attempt ponderously correct whathas becomeone ofthemostcomin waveofgeographical monmistakes thecurrent of the on privileging writings Lefebvre, materialist called perceivedspace/spatial what Lefebvre a or perspecpractices, whatI termed Firstspace became tive. included, myself Many geographers, as of so attracted thenotion spatial to practices and socialrelations the "real"worldof politics that's where action the practices-surely (spatial to uncharacterfailed see Lefebvre's they is) that of that clear istically statement thepolitics domiout space, and is nation resistance played in lived and materialized in not merely the perceived and relations proof spaceofpractices "secreted"

which, Lefebvreargued,tend of representation, to be the fundamentalspace of domination. I this to wrote two whole chapters trying clarify point and to focusattentionon the complex and qualities of lived space, which, oftenperplexing more than any other term,defineswhat I tryto convey in my composite notion of thirdspace. Merrifieldnot only continues to misread LeHe febvre,he muddles the triad even further. confusesperceptionwith cognition,as no good behavioral geographerwould do, drops Kevin concludes quixotically Lynchinto his confusion, thatspatialpracticesare the "dialecticalpressure point" (p. 345) thatkeeps the conceived and the and lived together/apart, then claims that this of intomydefinition confusedmesswould bestfit muddledmaterialSecondspace. Such assertively ismwould make "poorold Henri" turnoverin his grave at least threetimes. raise an however,does indirectly Merrifield, issuethatI suspecthas also contributed important to Price's anger and Shields' puzzlementregarddisciplineof Geography.I ing the contemporary and unyieldmayindeed have been too insistent of in ing in Thirdspace arguingthat geographers all stripes will have more difficulty than in the nongeographers understanding book's main critique,and therefore expandjor theoretical ing the scope of their already well-established critical spatial imaginations.I was tempted to respondto the threereviewsbyusingtheiroccaand misreadingsto sional errant sidetrackings reinforcemy arguments.But this is much too facile a response.There are manymore geograwho are practicing phersthanI chose to recognize and whatI preachedin Thirdspace, doing precisely it much betterthan I have done. To themI offer and overstating argument not my myapologiesfor contributions. theirsignificant appreciating But I do not wantto bluntthesechallengestoo much, forI thinktherestillremainsa privileged canon, deeply entrenched in Geography,that incontinues to fosteran excessive disciplinary troversion. Simplyput, too manyof the best geographers carry away much more from other back rushing disciplinesthan theygivein return, foldwithnew ideas into Geography'sembracing to reinforce established waysof"doinggeography one pracas usual," whateverkind of geography when theyrecognizethe tices.Most geographers, excitingand creativespatial turnthat has been takingplace in the 1990s, react by seeing it as a pat on the back of the disciplinefora job well

BookReview Forum done.Yetthere much is more this to spatial turn. A significant portion thebestwork of emanating from the resurgence interest space and of in is outsideGeography spatiality beingproduced and withrelatively little morethanpolite, few, references thewritings geographers. the to of At the sametime, geographical literature becomis ingfilled references these with to "outsiders" that toooften misread misrepresent merely and them to legitimize geography usual,evenwhen,as as withLefebvre and Foucaultin particular, this


geography usual (be it feminist, as Marxist, cultural, etc.) is whatthey critiquing. ThirdIf are space serves in any way to open up new for possibilities geographers engage to more productively thegrowing in transdisciplinary comdimension munity scholars see thespatial of who ofourlivesas ofequalcritical to importance life's embracing and then historicality sociality, itwill havebeenworth After has writing. all,geography becometoo important be leftexclusively to to geographers.