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Spatial Questions

Spatial Questions
Cultural Topologies and Social Spatialisation

  • Rob Shields - Sociology, Art and Design, University of Alberta, Canada

September 2013 | 216 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Space inevitably plays an important role in our social lives. When talking to our neighbors, reading the newspaper, going the gym, answering an e-mail, we all draw on our presuppositions and understanding of spatiality and temporality.

This book successfully illuminates these embedded experiences, questioning how to understand space as a multiple, dynamic, intangible, yet present, form of knowledge. Building from a history of philosopher's and geographer's theories of space, Rob Shields convincingly presents the importance of spatialization and cultural topology in social theory and the possibilities that lies within these theoretical tools.

Innovative and thought-provoking, this book goes beyond traditional ideas of time and space, seeking to understand the multiplicity of spatializations and relate them to our everyday life.

From the Shan Hai Jing to Herodotus' Historiae and to Idrisi's Kitab Nuzhat
Mediterranean Geographies
Spatialisation and Space-Time
The Argument of this Book
Space as Problem: Etymology/Translation
'L'espace Lefebvre'
Respecting Lefebvre: Critical Tensions
The Spatialisations of Places and Regions
Memorial and Anticipatory Spatialisation: Time-Spaces
Vieux Quebec: The Example of Tourist Practices
Histories of Space
Mediterranean Geometric Space
Northern Europe: Mathematical Space
Dimensionality: Three, Four or More?
Relativistic Space
The Socialness of Space
Recognising Spatialisation
Marx: The Economics of Land
Engels: Inequality and the Built Environment
Simmel: Spatial Projections of Social Forms
Cultural Understanding of Space: Emile Durkheim
Physical Planning, Land Use Planning, Spatialisation and Spatial Semantics
Spatial Struggles
Discourses on Space
'Another Kind of Analysis' - Beyond Geometry
Connectivity and Schematics
Geometry and Topology
The Seven Bridges of Königsburg
Non-Euclidean Space
The Topological Sensorium
Dimensionality and Orientability
Topological Archetypes: Folds, Bridges, Labyrinths
The 'Plushness' of the Real
Cultural Topology
Deleuze Folding Foucault
Heterotopias of Scale
Scale and Topology
Topology and the Social - Networks, Surfaces and Milieux
Relations and Boundary Objects
Cultural Topology
A Topology of Experience
The Cusp
Glossary of Terms


'Rob Shields provides here an immensely sophisticated and detailed examination of the topological turn. He has been examining these issues for some decades and this book will surely become the standard work on cultural and spatial topology'

John Urry
Distinguished Professor, Dept of Sociology, Lancaster University

Spatial Questions provides one of the most complete accounts in the recent literature engaging with topology. The reader might be deceived by the apparently slim format, which nevertheless packs material that could easily inform several volumes on the topic. Spatial Questions is a welcome contribution to spatial theory and, given the prominence of the topic nowadays, as well as the hype built around the topological over the past years, the book might equally appeal to geographers and to a broader audience within the social sciences.

Iulian Barba-Lata, Wageningen University
Society and Space, Environment and Planning

Spatial Questions: Cultural Topologies and Social Spatialisation provides an important contribution to the study of topology at large and to those who engage with human geography in particular, coinciding with recent topological discussions in such journals as Progress in Human Geography (2014), Theory, Culture & Society (2012) and Dialogues in Human Geography (2011). As in his previous writings, Shields’ provides a vivid and clear discussion, accessible to a wide range of readers from various disciplines. These undoubtedly will find the call for a ‘topological turn’ valuable and thought provoking.

Yuval Karplus, Independent researcher
Geography Research Forum

A welcome contribution to spatial theory... allowing for a new and fresh understanding of “spacing” and the spatialisations that are accomplished through everyday activities, representations and conflicts.

Federico Boni, University of Milan

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One: Overtures

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