Space and the city: reflecting the significance of spatial categories in urban studies

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In recent decades “space” has become a central concept in both the social sciences and the humanities. In line with a much-quoted remark by Michel Foucault, alleging that the “present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space” (Foucault 1986: 23), many disciplines – from sociology and political science to cultural and literary studies – have witnessed a revitalization of spatial categories: notions like “space”, “place”, “topography” or “topology” have been taken up again in disciplines that have previously been characterized by a certain “oblivion of space” (Werlen 2000). Despite the fact that questions of space have been discussed for quite some time now, the contours of what is actually under debate have remained surprisingly blurred. This may on the one hand be due to the large number of disciplines involved which, despite all rhetoric of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, have pursued their own interests in and with spatial categories. On the other hand, “space” has remained a word with almost magic power, capable of “conjuring up exactly what is supposed to be said” (Nassehi 1998: 152, transl. JL).
City on water : 6th AESOP European Urban Summer School 2015, Bremen
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