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.

Summary:

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

Quotations:

“‘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).

Notes: Tim Edensor, “Commuter: Mobility, Rhythm and Commuting” in Tim Cresswell and Peter Merriman’s Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects

Edensor, Tim. (2011). Commuter: Mobility, rhythm and commuting. in Tim Cresswell and Peter Merriman (Eds.) Geographies of mobilities: Pracices, spaces, subjects. Burlington, VT, 189-203.

Summary:

Edensor articulates the many layers of rhythms that structure commuter-cultures and how these shape our understandings of space and place.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Commuting, Transport, Place, Space, Non-Place

Sources:

Bonham, J. (2006). Transport: Disciplining the body that travels. The Sociological Review, 54(1), 54-74.

Quotations:

“First of all, rhythmanalysis elucidates how places posses no essence but are ceaselessly (re)constituted out of their connections” (190).

“Places are thus continually (re)produced through the mobile flows which course through and around them, bringing together ephemeral, contingent, and relatively stable arrangements of people, energy, and matter” (190).

“Rhythmanalysis thus emphasizes the dynamic processual qualities of place, circumventing overarching sedentarist spatial reifications in contradistinction to ‘time geographies’ which abstractly spatialize or map time onto place. Spaces are thus always immanent, in process, fecund and decaying” (190).

Notes: David Sibley, “Feelings About Difference” in Geographies of Exclusion

Sibley, David. (1995). Feelings about difference. in Geographies of exclusion. New York: Routledge.

Summary:

Sibley discusses theories from psychoanalysis to object relations as they pertain to feelings of the other.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Space, Place, Objects Psychoanalysis

Sources:

Mead, George. (1934). Mind, self and society. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Quotations:

“I want to start by considering people’s feelings about others because of the importance of feelings in their effect on social interaction, particularly in instances of racism and related forms of oppression… Who is felt to belong and not to belong contributes in an important way to the shaping of social space” (3).

“The concept of ‘the generalized other’ provides a means of spatializing the problem and producing what we might describe as an ecological account of the self, one which situates the self in a full social and cultural context” (9).

“The social positioning of the self means that the boundary between self and other is formed through a series of cultural representations of people and things which frequently elide so that the non-human world also provides a context for self-hood” (10).

 

Notes: David Sibley, “Introduction” in Geographies of Exclusion

Sibley, David. (1995). Introduction. in Geographies of exclusion. New York: Routledge.

Summary:

David Sibley introduces a theoretical framework for raising questions of exclusion within human geography.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Capital, Space, Place

Sources:

Nicholson, Linda J. (1990). Feminism/Postmodernism. London: Routledge.

Quotations:

“Because power is expressed in the monopolized of space and the relegation of weaker groups in society to less desirable environments, any text on social geography of advanced capitalism should be concerned with the question of exclusion” (ix).

“Human geography, in particular, should be concerned with raising consciousness of the domination of space in its critique of hegemonic culture” (x).

“To get beyond the myths which secure capitalist hegemony, to expose oppressive practices, it is necessary to examine the assumptions about inclusion and exclusion which are implicit in the design of spaces and places” (x).

“One part of the problem, then, is to identify forms of socio-spatial exclusion as they are experienced and articulated by the subject groups” (x).

Dis/Posed, or, A Locative Apparatus of Position

3028620509_efe2edabc2_o

On day four of the two week GA instructor training, we were afforded the honor of having Jonathan Alexander come to speak to us. His talk, “Practical Multimodality: Invention, Revision, Dissemination,” sparked wonderful conversation in the First-Year Writing Program already.

Firstly, it may be worth mentioning that I may or may not be an Alexander fanboy, as may be evidenced by the number of my “Notes” on this blog being readings of his published work. It somehow seems that I’ve always missed moments of meeting Dr. Alexander. In Dr. Banks’ Queer Rhetorics seminar (circa Spring, 2014), Dr. Alexander was slated to Skype into our class the one time I was not able to attend class—later at 4Cs15, I almost caught him a handful of times as he was entering or leaving a space. To say that I am a fan of his work is just to say that over the course of my education, his work has been extremely formative to my thinking about writing and teaching—and that it is not uncommon for a citation of him to appear in a paper I write.

I will likely return to some of Alexander’s main topics in a later post as I’m still letting his thoughts on multimodality set in. For now, I want to inhabit a moment early in his talk. There he talked about learning and teaching disposition—to be attentive to what we are disposed to. Alexander noted that his own learning disposition is to try out what he doesn’t know.

I’ve been thinking a lot about spaces, places, and positions lately, especially in terms of how we come to understand our positional interrelationships. When Alexander moved between the nominal disposition to disposed, I started thinking a little more about this. What does it mean to be dispositioned or to be disposed. I quickly started sketching a bit of framing around this word position and the verb pose and its relationship to many of its prefixes it comes in contact with: sup—, im—, re—, and dis—. These quick sketches prompted me to think of something of a psychoanalytic geography. This, in no way constitutes any deep linguistic or psychoanalytic thought with any degree of seriousness; however, thinking about the locative function of these words provided me with some insight into thinking about myself, writing, and teaching. Each quick etymological work is constituted only of my own interactions with these words and a quick reference of the OED.

Sup (2)Sup

I started doodling around the form position. A quick OED flyby of definitions of position occupy ranging meanings from one’s relationship to space and place, to a title or status occupied (often in terms of employment or sports), to a belief or argument one inhabits. The word is relational and deals with inhabiting and occupying. Additionally, position seems to deal also with sites of tension or difference—where beliefs and arguments come in contact, where social differences touch—making this word one that is as descriptive of other and the boundaries of other/self as it location and occupation. Perhaps that “I” occupies a form of being where “you” isn’t.

When position takes the form of a verb, that interrelationship and contact is put into motion. The definitions it takes involve proposing thesis, setting in place one’s occupation, or locating one’s position. These are sites of contact, moments in which argument occurs, where one is placed, where one is found in place. Interestingly, the act of placing in these definitions of position is acted on the self or subject. Which, again, seems to suggest to me that the “I” can only come to recognize or position itself when in contact with the “you”.

What I hope also to suggest about position is it’s relationship to topoi and place. Topoi as an inventional term within rhetoric often gets used in terms of topic selection in very isolated, easily located and differentiated kinds of ways. The apparatus of locating in position seems to operate similarly: one occupies a position in the concrete singular sense that one occupies a topic. However, thinking of position as invention may offer different forms of thinking than topical invention when one considers position as always in contact—that the positions occupied are always connecting, but also that position touches adjacent meanings.

But what happens when position is taken into other words? Supposition seems to at once denote signification, assumption, and expectation. Much of the present definitions seem to come from assumptions that appear in line with understood facts or operating assumptions that refer back to cultural phenomena. Supposition seems to promote an expectation of outcome or understanding. There is room also within supposition for suspicion and doubt, which I think is important. In terms of locating position within supposition beyond the easy kinds of root-word location, supposition’s arguments, contacts, and settings seem to precede the act of occupation or proposal. The act of assumption draws on preconstituted values and ideas that predate the rhetorical situation.

Position’s locating apparatus may somewhat informed by supposition’s insistence predetermination of outcome and expectation. In some ways, supposition may operate normatively as a normalization of the preconceived. However, and perhaps paradoxically, supposition does not become supposition until the assumption is internalized and all (if any existed) reference to reality is no longer referenced. One may only encounter supposition through the suspicion or interrogating of those assumptions.

Imposition has always been for me a politeness word—something that “I” does not want to be or create for “you”, that “I” recognize “you” as valuable and thus wish to not be an imposition. Imposition has never appeared to me as a negative action, but rather a negative consequence for an action. Imposition’s definitions span acts of layering, arranging, laying hands (in terms of religious Christian terms), attaching, accusing, taxing, or burdening. Imposition is an action of placing on one—placing guilt, duty, obligation—but there is an on top of within the defition. Imposition is additional. The “I” is layered within imposition. There is excess and exhaustion. Still situated within this locative function of position between the “I” and “other,” imposition seems to show enacted the encumbrance of contact with “otherness.” In this way, imposition may be the consequence of resisting, doubting, or moving against what may be the superego’s normalization of position within supposition. Imposition seems to locate movement or occupation outside or beyond or unsanctioned by (sup)position. Perhaps this locative tension of mobility can help name or interrogate the discomfort around naming the tacit, the normalized, ideas around our privileged positions: I think of the backlash I receive when I talk frankly about my whiteness, my maleness, the ways that I am classed, and the privilege those afford.

What then of reposition? Reposition seems to name return to one’s position. I may mention the resting capacity of repose later, but reposition seems to seek that rest that comes with return. That movement out of one’s relational position is exhausting and imposing and that the self can only be at rest when it returns to its social designations. Reposition may help name the exhaustion of sustaining contact—the difficulty of activism and attention.

To return to disposition, the word that initially prompted this exploration, what function does it serve to position? Disposition seems to offer duplicity of the will and the capacity of the self to be willful. Disposition seems to also refer to the “natural” (in a normative sense) arrangement of constituent parts while also referring to the means by which one can dispense with constraints. In the terms that Alexander mentioned disposition, he was referring to one’s tendencies or inclinations. In some ways, this refers to the desires of the self or the conditions by which the self can be satisfied. In my estimation, disposition’s attentiveness is to the self’s orientation. It follows the desire to rest, to move, to be in line, and to occupy. In the locative apparatus of position, disposition may be most closely related to orientation in that it both recognizes the conditions of occupation of a position, but it is also the function by which one feels the boundaries of position. The self comes to know their position to their sense of being in line or oriented with it, or through their restless shifting and movement: disposition names that self-in/out of-place.

While I’ve already written more here than I should, I did want to call attention to the fact that I’ve devoted my attention to the —tion words. What I think is powerful about understanding position as a site of inquiry and invention is that it equally has the power to give us actions. The verbs and all their cases and tenses—pose, suppose, impose, repose, and dispose—equally offer sites for understanding doing, being, and performing. And what of, perhaps, unposed? Is that our site of queering this apparatus? Acknowledging of the candid and/or willfully out of place?

What I think this language does well is a noticing of orientation, body, and action that surround issues of positionality.

Notes: Marc Agué, “From Places to Non-Places” in Non-Places: An Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity

Agué, Marc. “From Places to Non-Places” in Non-Places: An Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. London: Verso, 1995: 75-115.

5708040127_af43ae3efe_o

Summary:

Agué poses non-places as the spaces of supermodernity, a shift from anthropological place.

Keywords: Anthropology, Non-Places, Space, Place

Quotations:

“[T]he expression Starobinski employs to evoke ancient places and rhy thms is significant: modernity does not obliterate them but pushes them into the background” (76).

“Place is completed through the word, through the allusive exchange of a few passwords between speakers who are conniving in private complicity” (76).

“The hypothesis advanced here is that supermodernity produces non-places, meaning spaces which are not themselves anthropological places and which. unlike Baudelairean modernity, do not integrate the earlier places: instead these are listed, classified, promoted to the status of ‘places of memory’, and assigned to a circumscribed and specific position” (78).

“[A] world thus surrendered to solitary individuality, to the fleeting, the temporary and ephemeral, offers the anthropologist (and others) a new object, whose unprecedented dimensions might usefully be measured before we start wondering to what sort of gaze it may be amenable” (78).

“Place and non-place are rather like opposed polarities: the first is never completely erased, the second never totally completed; they are like palimpsests on which the scrambled game of identity and relations is ceaselessly rewritten. But non-places are the real measure of our time; one that could be quantified – with the aid of a few conversions between area, volume and distance” (79).

“The distinction between places and non-place derives from the opposition between place and space. I An essential preliminary here is the analysis of the notions of place and space suggested by Michel de Certeau . He himself does not oppose ‘place’ and ‘space’ in the way that ‘place’ is opposed to ‘nonplace ‘. Space, for him, is a ‘frequented place’, ‘an intersection of moving bodies'” (79).

“[P]lurality of places, the demands it makes on the powers of observation and description (the impossibility of seeing everything or saying everything), and the resulting feeling of ‘disorientation’ (but only a temporary one: ‘This is me in front of the Parthenon,’ you will say later, forgetting that when the photo was taken you were wondering what on earth you were doing there), causes a break or discontinuity between the spectator-traveller and the space of the landscape he is contemplating or rushing through. This prevents him from perceiving it as a place” (84).

“[S]paces in which solitude is experienced as an overburdening or emptying of individuality, in which only the movement of the fleeting images enables the observer to hypothesize the existence of a past and glimpse the possibility of a future” (87).

“[T]his emptying of the consciousness, can be caused – this time in systematic, generalized and prosaic fashion – by the characteristic features of what I have proposed to call ‘supermodernity’. These subject the individual consciousness to entirely new experiences and ordeals of solitude, directly linked with the appearance and proliferation of non-places” (93).

“But the real non-places of supermodernity – the ones we inhabit when we are driving down the motorway, wandering through the supermarket or sitting in an airport lounge waiting for the next flight to London or Marseille – have the peculiarity that they are defined partly by the words and texts they offer us: their ‘instructions for use’, which may be prescriptive (‘Take right-hand lane’), prohibitive (‘No smoking’) or informative” (96).

“This establishes the traffic conditions of spaces in which individuals are supposed to interact only with texts, whose proponents are not individuals but ‘moral entities’ or institution” (96).

“Anthropological place’ is formed by individual identities, through complicities of language, local references, the unformulated rules of living know-how; non-place creates the shared identity of passengers, customers or Sunday drive” (101).

“The space of non-place creates neither singular identity nor relations; only solitude and similitude” (103).

Notes: Marc Agué, “Anthropological Place” in Non-Places: An Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity

Agué, Marc. “Anthropological Place” in Non-Places: An Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. London: Verso, 1995: 42-74.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Summary:

Agué discusses and defines Anthropological Place, referring to the ways that anthropology has classically understood its intellectual objects as situated.

Keywords: Anthropology, place, space

Quotations:

“But this ideal of exhaustive interpretation, which a novelist would find discouraging owing to the comprehensive imaginative effort it might seem to require of him, rests on a very particular conception of the ‘average’ man, in which he too is defined as ‘total’ because, unlike the representatives of the modern elite, ‘his entire being is affected by the smallest of his perceptions or by the slightest mental shock'”(48-49).

“In so far as the culturalist view of societies tries to be systematic, its limitations are obvious: to substantify a singular culture is to ignore its intrinsically problematic character (sometimes brought to light, however, by its reactions to other cultures or to the jolts of history); to ignore, too, a complexity of social tissue and a variety of individual positions which could never be deduced from the cultural ‘text'” (50).

“We will reserve the term anthropological place for this concrete and symbolic construction of space, which could not of itself allow for the vicissitudes and contradictions of social life, but which serves as a reference for all those it assigns to a position” (51).

“These places have at least three characteristics in common. They want to be – people want them to be – places of identity, of relations and of history” (52).

“If we linger for a moment on the definition of anthropological place we will see, first, that it is geometric. It can be mapped in terms of three simple spatial forms, which apply to different institutional arrangements and in a sense are the elementary forms of social space. In geometric terms these are the line, the intersection of lines, and the point of intersection” (56-57).

“Thus, starting from simple spatial forms, we see how the individual thematic and the collective thematic intersect and combine. Political symbolism plays on these possibilities to express the power of an authority, employing the unity of a sovereign figure to unify and symbolize the internal diversities of a social collectivity” (62).

“[T]urning away, this bypassing. is not without some feeling of remorse, as we can see from the numerous signboards inviting us not to ignore the splendours of the area and its traces of history” (73).