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: 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).