Montag, 26. Februar 2007

Architektur und Kunst

Caillebotte, Gustave (1848-1894)

Boulevard von oben gesehen (1880)

Interessant wäre es doch, einmal zu untersuchen, welchen Einfluss die Entstehung von Hochhäusern auf die Malerei hatte; die Fluchten der Straßen, der Blick von oben, Abstraktion durch Abstand.

Montag, 12. Februar 2007

GHI Symposium Review

Symposium at the GHI, February 19, 2004. Convener: Thomas Zeller
(University of Maryland/GHI). Speakers: Denis Cosgrove (UCLA), Karen
Till (University of Minnesota).

The relationship between historians and geographers has not always been an easy one. Over the last decade, however, more and more historians have begun to pay attention to the spatial dimension of history, and thus have become increasingly aware of the work of cultural and historical geographers. In February 2004, the German Historical Institute contributed to the ongoing conversation between geographers and historians by inviting two cultural geographers, Denis Cosgrove and Karen Till, to present their work. Their papers are published in the “Features” section of this Bulletin.
A workshop on the spatial turn is certainly timely. But it is also fair to say that historians often hesitate to address the spatial dimension of the processes that they are studying. On the most obvious level, many are wary of spatial analyses because of the overly deterministic way space
has been used by scholars in the past. One need not only think of the geographical determinism inherent in the work of scholars such as Ellsworth Huntington or Karl Wittfogel; even in anti-racist and antiessentialist works such as Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, spatiality sometimes tends to be the primary causal factor for many conclusions.
In addition, the German word for space, Raum, very soon takes on an odious dimension, evoking the Nazis’ push for Lebensraum or the supposed Volk ohne Raum. While spatial thinking of course does not necessarily lead to expansionist or aggressive policies, the legacy of the Third
Reich has certainly left its mark on the debate over the spatial dimension of history. One could further develop this point by looking at the intersection of history and geography in various countries with different academic traditions. Great Britain, for example, has had a very productive school of historical geography, as has the United States. By contrast, after 1945, Germany’s geographers and historical geographers no longer thrived as they had before World War II.
Since the 1990s, historical interest in the formation of space has increased, and certain subdisciplines within history, especially environmental history, have begun paying more attention to the spatiality of the historical enterprise. The geographer Edward Soja has accused historians of writing history as if it took place on the head of a pin; this is less true for environmental history. As the environmental historian Richard White recently noted, however, even environmental historians, with their awareness of large processes of change over time and space, still tend to regard space as a simple, empty container for political, social, or cultural
developments. Historians today can learn much from the ways in which geographers, in particular cultural and historical geographers, conceptualize space and use it in their analyses. As the American cultural geographer Wilbur Zelinsky once wrote, “if geographers dare not ignore history, practitioners of history and the other social sciences and humanities must reciprocate by taking the spatial factor into full account in their endeavors.” The GHI’s symposium attempted to encourage historians to consider the spatial dimensions of history by introducing them to the work of two prominent cultural geographers.

Thomas Zeller
(GHI BULLETIN NO. 35 (FALL 2004) 123)


"There are no doubt many reasons to believe that the spatial turn will prove to be of lasting
significance. But, in the final analysis, or so I would claim, the ‘spatial turn’ has proved to be
a move of extraordinary consequence because it questions categories like ‘material’, ‘life’ and
‘intelligence’ through an emphasis on the unremitting materiality of a world where there are
no pre-existing objects. Rather, all kinds of hybrids are being continually recast by processes
of circulation within and between particular spaces."

Nigel Thrift: Space, in: Theory, Culture & Society 23(2–3) 2006, S. 139–155.

Sonntag, 4. Februar 2007

Knowing Space

“‘L’espace’ does not mean just ‘space’. By contrast, English-language theorists have often limited their appreciation of space to a quantitative definition with reference to distance and to time (and vice versa, e.g. graphically on a calendar)”

Knowledges of ‘space’ are part of social and cultural processes. Yet social space is not just a cognitive mapping. It cannot be derived entirely from forms of social solidarity. This would render space entirely cultural and thus epiphenomenal. Space could be discarded as inconsequential. How might one understand conflicts over social space or the production of ‘counter-spaces’ of resistance? How might one understand the juxtapositions within social space and its nested spaces within spaces in which very different rules apply?

“We need to know space as not just about relations and distance between elements but as a social produced order of difference that can be heterogeneous in and of itself. ‘Knowing space’ is not enough – trigonometric formulae, engineering structures, shaping the land and dwelling on it. We need to know about ‘spacing’ and the spatializations that are accomplished through everyday activities, representations and rituals.”

[Rob Shields: Knowing Space, in: Theory, Culture & Society 23 (2-3), S. 147-149]

Freitag, 2. Februar 2007

Fernand Braudel

„L’espace, source d’explication, met en cause, à la fois toutes les réalités de l’histoire, toutes les parties prenantes de l’étendue: les États, les sociétés, les cultures, les économies…Et, selon que l’on choisira l’un ou l’autre de ces ensembles, la signification et le rôle de l’espace se modifieront.“
[Fernand Braudel: Civilisation, économie et capitalisme. XVe-XVIIIe siècle. Le temps du monde, Paris 1979, S. 13]

Pierre Klossowski

"Ich erlebe, vor allem, seit ich mich der Malerei widme, die verschiedenen Etappen meiner Existenz nicht mehr in der Zeit, sondern in einem Raum, in welchem sich alle Ereignisse nebeneinanderstellen - so wie die Physiognomien, welche sie belebt haben."

Vidal de la Blache

"[Er] betrachtete den Raum, die Landschaft, die ihm vertraut war, und konstatierte, daß die natürlichen und kulturellen Eigenheiten von Region zu Region variierten. Er ging von der Beobachtung gegenwärtiger Phänomene aus [...] und versuchte sie historisch zu erklären. (vom Bekannten ausgehen und zum Unbekannten fortschreiten charakterisiert auch die Methode der Gründer der ,Annales'). [Er] konstatierte die ,permanences' der Landschaft; das Bestehen von bestimmten Formen der Landschaft reiche weit in die Vergangenheit zurück, und sie sei Produkt einer gemeinsamen Geschichte von Mensch und Natur. (die ,Dauer' oder die ,permanence' des geographischen Raumes finden wir in den Regionalmonographien der Historiker der ,Annales' wieder: Bloch, Febvre, Braudel, Le Roy Ladurie, u.a.)"

[Barbara Kronsteiner: Zeit, Raum, Struktur - Fernand Braudel und die Geschichtsschreibung in Frankreich, Wien u.a. 1989, S. 44.]

turn, turn, turn

„Die inflationär gewordene Rede vom turn hat auch das Gute an sich, daß sie den Einzigartigkeits- und Ausschließlichkeitsanspruch unterminiert oder ironisiert. Das ist gut so. Turns und Wendungen sind ja keine Neuentdeckung oder Neuerfindungen der Welt, sondern Verschiebungen von Blickwinkel und Zugängen, die bisher nicht oder nur wenig beleuchtete Seiten sichtbar werden lassen. […] Spatial turn: das heißt daher lediglich: gesteigerte Aufmerksamkeit für die räumliche Seite der geschichtlichen Welt – nicht mehr, aber auch nicht weniger.“

, Karl: Im Raume lesen wir die Zeit. Über Zivilisationsgeschichte und Geopolitik, München 2003, S. 68.]