University of Cambridge > > Department of Geography - Seminars in Cultural and Historical Geography > Geography’s final imperial frontier? On the influence of Geography on the humanities' 'spatial turn'

Geography’s final imperial frontier? On the influence of Geography on the humanities' 'spatial turn'

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Ever since Frederic Jameson coined the term the ‘spatial turn’ in 1988, geographers have been quick to proudly pronounce that the humanities and the social sciences have indeed spatially turned. Today, such claims are legion and are made not just by geographers but also by those in other disciplines too. Rare is the month without an announcement of a conference, workshop or publication on the theme of space: in 2015 space sells books and excites conference attendees’ imaginations in a newly febrile way. But beyond such impressions, and beyond claims to the spatial turn, what is the depth and meaning of the turn? And what is the influence of Geography – the discipline – and of the work of geographers on the telling of space in the humanities? In attempting to answer these questions, this paper focuses on the example of work in academic history, the humanities discipline arguably most squarely aligned with ours, examining the claims to space and the citation practices in both general and specialist history journals. In so doing, it argues that the spatial turn, if it is a ‘turn’, lacks depth, and that the influence of work in geography in thinking space in the humanities is minimal. Rather, historians, amongst others, often draw on other influences as well as crafting their own spatial conceptions. It concludes by arguing that we as geographers need to acknowledge that space, as a concept, exists beyond Geography, and therefore ultimately that we cannot claim space as our own.

This talk is part of the Department of Geography - Seminars in Cultural and Historical Geography series.

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