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GGRB13 - Lecture 4

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Minelle Mahtani

GGRB13 – Lecture 4 – January 30, 2012 REVIEW OF LAST WEEK: Limits of Positivism - Critiqued by people who saw themselves as human geographers The growth of Humanism - The experience of being human - Humans are decision-makers - Agency, a term that refers to autonomy and the way people interact in their world, the binaries that shape things - We employ decision-making patterns to make sense of our world Carl Sauer: Humanism - How do humans modify landscapes? How do you make a house a home? - Geography concerned about breaking binaries (Ex. Space and Place) - We can just blame physical geography, we need to think about our role, the human landscape - Are there stories that we cannot see with our naked eye? That is what social geography is all about, using your senses to create a map of your experience in space/place Some of Sauer’s Thoughts - Looking for patterns and associations - Interpreting the lay of the land, keeping a mental map, noting any change in the scene - Knowledge of the landscape (Ex. Tour guides know the landscape intimately) - Looking at the world beyond numerical understandings - What are the defining sounds of a landscape (soundscapes)? A different way of making sense of the space is to hear the sounds TODAY: VERNACULAR LANDSCAPES - Amusement Parks and Malls - They are not vernacular landscapes (normal/everyday) - Scientific method frames how we look at the world and coming up with clear conclusions in social and cultural geography Yi-Fu Tuan (Humanistic Geographer) “The quality of human experience in an environment is given by people’s capacity – mediated through culture – the feel, think and act...” - People’s capacity to do things is agency - Being able to feel, think, and act - How do we relate to each other in space? Ex. Why did you choose to sit next to that person? Are there spaces between you and that person? - Landscapes of fear - Fear is a big part of environments and helps create different kinds of spaces (Ex. safe spaces on subways) Positivism vs. Humanism - Can the study of human phenomena ever be objective? - Is there an interaction between the researcher and the researched that invalidates the information collected? - Does the researcher have a personal background that effectively influences his or her choice of problem, methods of interpretation of results? - If we study humans objectively, does this mean we see them as objects? What is Space? - Absolute space: Forms the basis of map-making and spatial analysis - Human geographers are skeptical of spatial analysis because they believe space itself does not have any content and its importance lies only in its human context - Geographers in the past saw space as space, it’s out there - Tuan argues space’s importance lies in its context - Space becomes a place when you increase familiarity Social geography is about CONTEXT - “Where are you at?” Where you are at that particular space and time, physically and emotionally - What’s your context? - Defining what the space is to you depends on your context, your relation to it, and your role in changing the space (agency) - Space has an important role to play in actively constituting society - Significance of the local, the day-to-day, the grounding reality – your house, your neighbourhood park, the workplace - Human activity is influenced by social interaction UTSC - Not an inert thing – students arrive to class, profs in offices, people who produce the institution day in and day out - Sculpting human activity - Human activity produces university but human activities are shaped by the university - Feedback loops: Production of space at work What is wrong with this Campus? - Is there an impact of space on people? - The campus feels like a dungeon, depressing, etc. - Paul Bernardo went to UTSC - This place tells many different stories and have different impacts on people What is place? - Place refers to a location with a specific identity - Longitude and Latitude - A sense of place is evoked in relation to a distinctive place with special significance - McDonald’s is a place (based on this definition) because it is a specific location and identity, but it can also be a space Place - Sacred space refers to a place that is respected usually for a religious purpose Ex. Church, synagogue, temple - Mundane space is occupied by humans but has no particular quality - Topophilia refers to the love for a place, we all experience love for a particular place Non-places - Is an airport a place? - The concept of placelessness, refers to landscapes that are relatively similar (airports) - You’ve been to many airports that they all seem to be the same (or similar) - Empirical non-places are characteristic of the contemporary world (Marc Auge) - What are some other non-places? Ex. Library, mall, Canadian Tire, freeways Other Non-Places - Spaces of circulation, places that are always moving that you cannot reflect - A place would be like a cottage because you have time to consume and reflect - Place is paused (allows for consumption), space is movement - Where people co-exist without living together - Marked by transience (Ex. Libraries, you go in and leave, you don’t live there) - Fleeting, temporary and ephemeral (short-lived, non-permanent) - Where history is not relevant, history does not matter (think about the world of history and its impact on your senses) - Space of travellers Yi-Fu Tuan - What are the effects of a mobile world on the experience of place in modernity? - Mobility on space, what are its effects on place in modernity? George Clooney in “Up in the Air” - You’ve been to the airport so many times that you know how to move around - Everyone makes different connections; one may make a connection when others do not - For Clooney, everything else is transient but the airport is his home - Pseudo place are advanc
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