This conference, organised by the UMR 6590 ESO (a research unit based in Western France ; http://eso.cnrs.fr/), aims at generating an interdisciplinary dialogue around epistemological, theoretical and methodological issues linked with the study of the spatial dimension of social relations.
The registration form is online. Registration are open from February 17 until March 21, 2014. For more informations, click on the tab "Register" under the header "Myspace".
This conference arises out of the research interests of the team Espaces et Sociétés (UMR 6590 ESO),stepping on a tradition of social geography recognised both nationally and internationally and which hasdeveloped, over the years, in an interdisciplinary direction. The objective of the conference is to generatean interdisciplinary dialogue around epistemological, theoretical and methodological issues linked with the study of the spatial dimension of social relations.
Indeed, even if one has to be highly careful with the rhetoric of the new and of change, which nowadays constitutes an almost unavoidable topos in order to stimulate interest and to be different from others, theidea according to which the Humanities and Social Sciences have been engaged for several decades ina “spatial turn” seems broadly justified. This refers first of all to a change in awareness and perspectivefrom the point of view of the models of analysis and interpretation, accounting for a growing interest in thespatial dimension of social relations.
This change has been supported in particular by two majordevelopments: - The crisis affecting the mainstream historicist and universalist paradigms which considered the social world, its characteristics and its driving forces through essentially aspatial models, such asthe theories of modernisation and development and a part of marxist currents; - The relativisation of the national scale, which largely configured the problematics of social sciences, around the political figure of the Nation State, but also around implicitly organicist social imaginaries and models; this led to confining theoretic and empirical investigation to a space extremely limited both representationally and territorially.
The idea of a “spatial turn” can also be interpreted not so much as a change in awareness and perspective, but rather as a change of paradigm even within the disciplines in which space washistorically considered a privileged focus of scientific study. Here again, the rhetoric of the turning pointcomes easily to the fore, in the form of the “constructivist turn”. This expression describes a radicalcritique of naturalist, essentialist and determinist approaches of space. To reason in terms of constructionof the spatial dimension of social relations is both to refuse all forms of separation between the “spatial”and the “social” and to fully integrate the temporal and spatialized elaboration of the phenomena studied.
These evolutions are not simply the product of the endogenous dynamics of the Humanities and SocialSciences, they are inseparable from major socio-historical transformations : - the dynamics of “modernisation” across the planet, which highlight phenomena of convergence andalso of divergence, render obsolete the unequivocal figurations in terms of progress or revolution andforce one to take into account the contingency of socio-spatial configurations; - the dynamics of globalisation and of regionalisation (supra- as well as infra-national) which renderthe multi-scale approaches increasingly essential; - the accelerated dynamics of interaction of human activities and land environments pointing to theurban-technological society and the productivist and consumerist mentality as major forces ofchange, which prompts one to think about the coupling of societies, techniques and “nature”; - the revolution linked to the emergence of “cyberspace”, which is certainly only in its infancy andwhich calls for in depth reflections about the space of “virtual reality”, at the individual as well as thecommunity level.