Notes: David Sibley, “Bounding Space: Purification and Control” in Geographies of Exclusion

Sibley, David. (1995). Bounding space: Purification and control. in Geographies of exclusion. New York: Routledge, 72-89.


Sibley examines the way in which constructions of self and other create ‘purified’ spaces that desire conformity and construct deviance.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Place, Space, Borders


“There seems to me to be a continuing need for ritual practices to maintain the sanctity of space in a secular society. These rituals… are an expression of power relations: they are concerned with domination. Today, however, the guardians of sacred spaces are more likely to be security guards, parents or judges than priests. They are policing the spaces of commerce, public institutions and the home rather than the temple” (72).

“We cannot understand the role of space in the reproduction of social relations without recognizing that the relatively powerless still have enough power to ‘carve out spaces of control’ in respect of their day-to-day lives” (73).

“We can envision the build environment as an integral element in the production of social life, conditioning activities and creating opportunities according to the distribution of power in the socio-spatial system” (73).

“An appreciation of power relations gives meaning to space. Variations in the control and manipulation of different spatial configurations reflect different forms of power relations” (76).

“The anatomy of the purified environment is an expression of the values associated with strong feelings of abjection, a heightened consciousness of difference and, thus, a fear of mixing or the disintegration of boundaries” (78).

“[The panopticon principle] ‘colonizes’ social life and erects boundaries between normal and deviant at all levels, irrespective of legal codes which define criminal behavior. Thus, control, discipline and carceral forms of punishment are diffused through society and social control on the panopticon principle becomes much more than confinement under a particular regime” (83).

“Self and other, and the spaces they create and are alienated from, are defined through projection and introjection. Thus, the built environment assumes symbolic importance, reinforcing a desire for order and conformity if the environment itself is ordered and purified; in this way, space is implicated in the construction of deviancy” (86).

Notes: José Muñoz, “Queerness as Horizon: Utopian Hermeneutics in the Face of Gay Pragmatism” in Cruising Utopia: The Then and Now of Queer Futurity

Muñoz, José E. (2009). Queerness as horizon: Utopian hermeneutics in the face of gay pragmatism. in Cruising utopia: The then and there of queer futurity. New York: New York University Press, 19-32.


Muñoz insists on queerness as a not-quite-here and that queerness as utopian and uses this positioning of queer as a means to be beyond the pragmatic and neoliberal.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Queer Futurity


“This ‘we’ does not speak to a merely identitarian logic but instead to a logic of futurity. The ‘we’ speaks to a ‘we’ that is ‘not yet conscious,’ the future society that is being invoked and addressed at the same moment. The ‘we’ is not content to describe who the collective is but more nearly describes what the collective and the larger social order could be, what it should be… This is to say that the field of utopian possibility is one in which multiple forms of belonging in difference adhere to a belonging in collectivity” (20).

“The not-quite-conscious is the realm of potentiality that must be called on, and insisted on, if we are ever to look beyond the pragmatic sphere of the here and now, the hollow nature of the present” (21).

“I suggest that holding queerness in a sort of ontologically humble state, under a conceptual grid in which we do not claim to always already know queerness in the world, potentially staves off the ossifying effects of neoliberal ideology and the degredation of politics brought about by representations of queerness in contemporary culture” (22).

“Indeed, to live inside straight time and ask for, desire, and imagine another time and place is to represent and perform a desire that is both utopian and queer” (26).

“Indeed it is important to complicate queer history and understand it as doing more than the flawed process of merely evidencing. Evidencing protocols often fail to enact real hermeneutical inquiry and instead opt to reinstate that which is known in advance. Thus, practices of knowledge production that are content merely to cull selectively from the past, while striking a pose of positivist undertaking or empirical knowledge retrieval, often nullify the political imagination” (27).

“These ephemeral traces, flickering illuminations from other times and places, are sites that may indeed appear merely romantic, even to themselves. Nonetheless they assist those of us who wish to follow queerness’ promise, its still unrealized potential, to see something else, a component that the German aesthetician would call cultural surplus. I build on this idea to suggest that the surplus is both cultural and affective. More distinctly, I point to a queer feeling of hope in the face of hopeless heteronormative maps of the present where futurity is indeed the province of normative reproduction” (28, original emphasis).


Notes: David Sibley, “Mapping the Pure and the Defiled” in Geographies of Exclusion

Sibley, David. (1995). Mapping the pure and the defiled. in Geographies of exclusion. New York: Routledge, 49-71.


Sibley traces how geographies are constructed which mark persons and places as defiled and thus othered.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Cultural Studies, Space, Place, Class


“In constructing these geographies, the imagery… is drawn on to characterize both people and places, reflecting the desire of those who feel threatened to distance themselves from defiled people and defiled places. Thus, values associated with conformity or authoritarianism are expressed in maps which relegate others to places distant from the locales of the dominant majority” (49).

“[T]here are enduring images of ‘other’ people and ‘other’ places which are combined in the construction of geographies of belonging and exclusion, from the global to the local” (69).

Notes: Ann Cvetkovich, “Reflections: Memoir as Public Feelings Research Method” in Depression: A Public Feeling

Cvetkovich, Ann. (2012). Reflections: Memoir as public feelings research method. in Depression: A public feeling. Durham: Duke University Press.


Cvetkovich details memoir as a research method and positions this within academic and therapeutic culture.

Keywords: Depression, Culture, Cultural Studies, Affect, Feminist Rhetorics, Queer, Memoir, Research Methods


“Memoir has been an undeniable force in queer subcultures, where it has been an entry point into the literary public sphere for working-class writers, the backbone of solo performance, and a mainstay for small presses” (74).

“Exemplifying deconstructive principles, academic memoir can expose the material conditions and subject positions that underlie intellectual production” (75).

“The memoir tries to be honest about the ways that activism can sometimes stall out in the routines of daily life, rather than offering revolution as the prescription for change… It suggests that when asking big questions about what gives meaning to our lives, or how art and politics can promote social justice or save the planet, ordinary routines can be a resource” (80).

“The memoir also functions as a research method because it reveals the places where feeling and lived experience collide with academic training and critique” (80).

“Personal narrative can be a forum for the places where ordinary feelings and abstract thinking don’t line up. The impasses of depression and writer’s block can live in those interstices, and alternative forms of writing can spring them loose as foundations for innovative thought” (82).

Notes: José Esteban Muñoz “Introduction: Feeling Utopia” in Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

Muñoz, José E. (2009). Introduction: Feeling utopia. in Cruising utopia: The then and there of queer futurity. New York: New York University Press, 1-18.


Muñoz positions his utopian critique as a response to antirelational critiques within queer critiques.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Queer Futurity


“Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality. We have never been queer, yet queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’s domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present” (1).

“Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world” (1).

“The moment in which I write this book the critical imagination is in peril. The dominant academic climate into which this book is attempting to intervene is dominated by a dismissal of political idealism. Shouting down utopia is an easy move” (10).

“That is to say that queerness is always in the horizon. I contend that if queerness is to have any value whatsoever, it must be viewed as being visible only in the horizon” (11).

Notes: David Sibley, “Border Crossings” in Geographies of Exclusion

Sibley, David. (1995). Border crossings. in Geographies of exclusion. New York: Routledge, 32-48.


Sibley discusses boundary consciousness and how self-and-other is maintained on a social scale.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Space, Place, Border, Transgression


Leach, E. (1976). Culture and communication. Cambridge University Press.


Recreated graphic from page 33:


“The mixing of categories… by the intersections of sets, creates liminal zones or spaces of ambiguity and discontinuity…” (32-33).

“It is a zone of abjection, one which should be eliminated in order to reduce anxiety, but this is not always possible. Individuals lack the power to organize their world into crisp sets and so eliminate spaces of ambiguity” (33).

“Dichotemies like traditional/modern or simple/complex do not seem to have much relevance to the questions of boundary drawing, inclusions and exclusions” (35).

“Moral panics articulate beliefs about belonging and not belonging, about the sanctity of terror and the fear of transgression. Since panics cannot be sustained for long, however, new ones have to be invented (but they always refer to an old script)” (41).

“Moral panics bring boundaries into focus by accentuating the differences between the agitated guardians of mainstream values and excluded others” (41).

“Inversions can have a role in political protest in the sense that they expose power relations by reversing them and, in the process, raise consciousness of oppression. They energize boundaries by parodying established power relations” (41-42).

“The occasions when inversions assume a centre-periphery form, when the dominant society is relegated to the spatial margins and oppressed minorities command the centre, may represent a challenge to established power relations and, thus, be subject to the attentions of the state” (42).


Notes: Allison Mountz, “Refugees—Performing Distinction: Paradoxical Positionings of the Displaced” in Tim Cresswell and Peter Merriman’s Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects

Mountz, Allison. (2011). Refugees—Performing distinction: Paradoxical positionings of the displaced. in Tim Cresswell and Peter Merriman (Eds.) Geographies of mobilities: Pracices, spaces, subjects. Burlington, VT, 255-269.


Mountz discusses the ways in which refugee subjectivities are positioned through discursive and material ties to borders, nationalism, and exclusion.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Culture, Space, Place, Nation, Borders, Refugee


“‘Refugee’ refers to a heterogeneous set of people, yet is a term that others, discursively, materially, and legally” (256).

“For refugees and refugee claimants, subjectivity and mobility are always intertwined and policed through a series of paradoxical positionings. Refugees and those in search of refuge are articulated paradoxically to the state” (256).

“Performances of citizenship as distinction in times of crisis are central to the policing of bodies, an exercise in sovereignty that blurs inside and out, that links discursive and material locations as a way of keeping those constructed as undesirable, poor, and criminal beyond reaching the rights and privileges that accompany membership” (256).

“The meaning of the border shifts spatially and conceptually and is called upon to perform many tasks. One function is to link regulation of mobility to identity and territory: to link who one is to location, and in so doing policing national borders around identities” (256).

“The status of refugee links potential inclusion to previous exclusion, this paradoxical location proving necessary for the membership in the nation-state…. The ‘good’ refugee fits into the definition prescribed by the Convention. The ‘bad’ refugee will not and is instead positioned as attempting to ‘cheat’ the system” (258).