Thematic Working Groups

To foster internal discussions and debates as well as general work on a common theoretical and conceptual framework within the SFB 1199, 14 thematic working groups have been established that will address different dimensions of the SFB’s research programme.

To foster internal discussions and debates as well as general work on a common theoretical and conceptual framework within the SFB 1199, 14 thematic working groups have been established in Phase I (2016 – 2019) that have addressed different dimensions of the SFB’s research programme. They helped to establish bridges across the projects and the disciplines involved, and have supported the beginnings of a common theoretical framework. Topics ranged from transnational spaces to assemblages, and from colonialism to religion & secularity, the global south and actor groups, among others.  

To strengthen and further streamline intellectual work across project sections four thematic working groups were re-established in Phase II (2020 – 2023). Members will analyse relationships between agency, imaginations and change of spatial orders. Each of the thematic working groups will also be responsible for organizing one of the annual conferences, a research seminar and a summer school for the Integrated Research Training Group

Thematic Working Group 1 ‘Mobilities’

The group analyses entanglements between various forms of mobility and the emergence of new spatial formats, or concussions of existing ones, including the circulation of differing imaginations of spatial orders. An understanding of the relation between mobilities and respatialization requires considering not only the mobile actor and its motives, forms, tools, resources etc. for mobility, but also those actors aiming to control, contain, and divert mobility. Further, the group investigates if different forms of mobility lead to different (kinds of) spatial formats or are challenging spatial orders in different ways. It is also asking questions the other way around: do different spatial formats and spatial orders promote/ inspire/ generate other (forms, practices, imaginations of) mobilities?

Participating projects: A01, A02, A06, A07, B01, B02, B03, B05, C02, and C06

Thematic Working Group 2 ‘Infrastructures’

In order to explore and understand the relation between infrastructures and spatial formats the group will focus on the mutual (re-)shaping of these phenomena. So far, it seems that infrastructures carry, enact, materialize, and operate some binary qualities through which practices, politics and imaginations of infrastructures are structured. These concern a) the interplay of fixed/stable vs. flow/fluid characteristics; b) practices and politics of connecting and integrating vs. disconnecting and dividing; c) the (re-)ordering of the relation between visibility and invisibility; d) material vs. virtual/digital features of infrastructures; and e) the way infrastructures’ relation to economic growth or as exchange between humans and nature is framed. The spatial practice of infrastructuring can thus be understood as the result of a particular dialectic/logic of these features. Insights will be productively tied back to the overarching concepts of spatial formats as well as spatial orders.

Participating projects: A02, A05, A06, B02, B05, B09, C04, and C06

Thematic Working Group 3 ‘Mediality of space-related imaginations’

This working group analyses the role of different media in articulating spatial imaginations that either represent existing spatial orders or suggest alternatives. The role of imaginations has already been a focal point in Phase I (2016 – 2019) while conceptualizing imaginations from the perspectives of geography as well as cultural and literary studies. Imaginations do have an influence on practices of spatialization, they potentially reduce complexity by producing patterns that support the densification and consolidation of spatial formats and spatial orders. On the other hand, they can have a destabilizing effect by providing possible alternatives and blueprints for experimentation and trial. It is an open question whether different media affect the scope, scale, or speed of changes differently.

Participating projects: A01, A05, A07, B01, B07, C01, C02, C04, C05, and C06

Thematic Working Group 4 ‘The Cold War as transformation of spatial orders’

The group combines the competency of several subprojects to discuss the change of a whole range of spatial orders between the 1930s and 1989/1990. While taking into account processes in different regions of the world beyond the Atlantic realm, a different periodization might be necessary to capture relevant events and instances. Due to individual subprojects’ focal points, respatialization projects of socialist actors/spatial entrepreneurs, decolonisation processes, and socialist models of development will be handled alongside interregionalisms, infrastructural changes, and representations/visualisations of respatializations associated with them. 

Participating projects: A07, B02, B03, B07, B09, C01, and C05

Thematic Working Group 5 ‘Spatial semantics and Digital Humanities’

All subprojects of the SFB 1199 are concerned when it comes to the linguistic realizations of spatial practices and or imagined spatial formats/spatial orders. The assumption is that a stabilization of spatial practices in spatial formats/spatial orders will last only if these are discussed, described, imagined, assessed and questioned in continuous acts of speech. The vocabulary used expresses a specific kind of spatial semantics. We are going to analyse the change, translation, transfer and circulation of such spatial semantics across subprojects. In doing so, we will use and further develop tools of the Digital Humanities tested by subprojects B01 and C01 during our first funding phase. The added value gained by this working group is manifold: a) it will further develop the concept of spatial semantics and integrate it into overall theory building at the SFB 1199; b) it will initiate discussions about research material and methods used in individual subprojects, leading to the development of tools that allow for common assessments and interpretations of research data not only within but also beyond the SFB 1199; and c) it will clarify the relevance of changes in semantics as an indicator of spatial transformations.

Participating projects: all