SFB Roundtable – Translating the Spatial Turn into Research: Experiences, Practices, Approaches
Organized by Katharina Döring (SFB 1199, U Leipzig, Germany)
|Date||Wednesday, 7 June 2017, 5:15 pm – 6:45 pm|
|Location||SFB 1199 | Strohsackpassage | Nikolaistraße 6-10 | 5th floor | 04109 Leipzig|
The SFB Roundtable provides a platform for all members of the Collaborative Research Centre to discuss core issues. Last semester the round table continued the discussion of spatial formats in relation to the first annual conference and gathered input from the different projects regarding their use and expectations of the term spatial format.
This semester the round table will shift the focus towards research practices and methods. After a productive year for the different working groups, it will provide a forum for reflection on particular research practices in relation to the spatial turn. Thus, the aim of the second SFB Roundtable is to appraise how research practices have been impacted by a specific focus on space.
What has changed in the way we do research? How has the focus on space shaped and altered the methods for data collection, analysis, and theory building? How do our current research practices differ from those of our colleagues in history, anthropology, geography, political science, literature studies, etc. In short, how do we trace and describe “processes of spatialization”?
Convened by Katharina Döring (Project B7), during this second SFB Roundtable input presentations will be given by Diana Ayeh (Project B6), Julia Oheim (Project B1) and Marlon Carranza (Project A4), while comments from Judith Miggelbrink (Project B5), Sarah Ruth Sippel (Project C4), and Ulf Engel (Project B7) will summarize main points for the discussion.
Summaries of the Presentations
Research from “Inside“ and “Outside” the Corporate Fence – Methodological Issues
Diana Ayeh (Project B6: “Gold Mining and New Regulations of (Sub)National Spaces in Africa”, SFB 1199, U Leipzig, Germany)
The choice of and access to informants, interview partners, and infrastructures are constitutive for the overall direction of research and its outcomes. In spite of some problems gaining entry access at the beginning of my field research on industrial gold mining in Burkina Faso, I was able to conduct research respectively “from inside” and “ outside” the fence of a multinational company. While this might enhance an understanding of and engagement with multiple spatial perspectives, it also raises issues of methodology. My short presentation will highlight a couple of methodological issues concerning the position or “social location” of the researcher when investigating sociospatial dynamics, such as processes of “enclaving”.
Spatial Revolution: Processes of Re-Spatialization and Changing Concepts of Space in 18th Century Revolutionary France
Julia Oheim (Project B1: “Between Reforming the Empire and Nation State Territorialization: The Transatlantic Cycle of Revolution 1770–1830”, SFB 1199, U Leipzig, Germany)
My project looks at conceptions of the reorganization of French metropolitan and imperial space in the late-eighteenth century. I am interested in the emergence of concurring spatial semantics, which were discussed in the midst of the revolutionary crisis of “traditional” spatial constellations that the French were seeking to overcome or reframe. The study’s empirical aim is to provide a spatial re-reading of French revolutionary debates by considering questions of citizenship, slavery, and trade, among others. It does so by concentrating on the spatial conceptions and their consequent articulation in distinct spatial semantics that were expressed within books, encyclopedias, maps, newspapers, as well as minutes of political institutional debates.
This approach entails a number of ontological and epistemological questions related to the conceptual notion of space itself:
What do I consider “spatial language”? Where and how can I best identify communicated spaces and in which kind of historical sources? What, then, is inherently spatial – and what is not? How “geographical” is the spatial? How should I address the relation between “the imagined” and “the material” when relating circulating spatial conceptions to materially enforced/emplaced spatial action across various geographical scales?
Learnings from Fieldwork: Maras as Producers of Translocal Spaces of Violence in the Americas and Europe
Marlon Carranza (Project A4: “Maras as Producers of Translocal Spaces of Violence in the Americas and Europe”, SFB 1199, U Leipzig, Germany)
Gang research has traditionally focused on the local conditions that explain the emergence, reproduction, and the strengthening of gangs. Other approaches, including the spatial analysis applied to the gang phenomenon, are scarce. This research project intends to study Central American gangs or maras using a spatial approach that focuses on their translocal nature. Although interesting, research of this nature needs to overcome a series of challenges. Based on my last fieldwork conducted in three cities in the United States (Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington DC) and Toronto, I outline a series of strategies and lessons that were useful during my two months of fieldwork in navigating through this complex spatial.
- A careful selection of the destination and centre of operation.
- An operationalization of concepts, particularly the concept of space and the translation of concepts into themes and questions.
- A careful review of day-by-day collected data using the spatial perspective and the discovery of new themes and areas of study.
- Careful attention paid to the mechanisms that link different localities.
- A careful analysis of difficulties confronting the research. How to deal with data that contradict the project’s main ideas and the denied spaces.