Bodies and Structures


Spatialities refers to the material socio-spatial structures and metageographies within which places are located (e.g., networks, regions, core-periphery, etc.), and which make boundaries, flows, vehicles, figures, imaginative geographies, and built environments socially meaningful. Spatialities are always multiple. A place, for example, can be located within a core-periphery formation as well as a network formation. A given spatiality can have multiple variations of a given unit of spatial meaning. Each formation creates particular constraints and identities, and facilitates the entrenchment of particular power relations. Spatialities remain open to tensions, ruptures, or transformations due to changing relations among constituent elements, shifting politics of place, and other economic and geopolitical factors.  

The term “spatialities” is deliberately capacious. Featherstone et al. define spatialities as “the diverse ongoing connections and networks that bind different parts of the world together and that are constituted through (and in fact constitute) particular sites and places" (Featherstone et al. 2007, 383, 386-87). We likewise use the term in a broad sense in order to capture the dynamism of socio-spatial practices in all their variety, and to enable the construction of historical narratives that consider the structuring power of spatialities beyond that of the nation-state and industrial capitalism. Of course, no account of the modern era can ignore these two spatial elephants. At the same time, there are transnational and transgressive stories to be told in which the nation-state/international system and industrial capitalism constitute only one part of the spatial “stage.”

Bodies and Structures recognizes spatialities on multiple scales and chronologies: the historical, geographic and discursive spaces depicted in our primary sources; the conceptual space of the tag index; and the present-day space of the digital environment itself. Each module references and invokes particular spatialities. For example, "Cai Peihuo's Inner Territory" explores the political history of the core-periphery (naichi-gaichi) spatial construct, which was both the hegemonic imaginative geography of the later Japanese empire and an imperial formation of administrative policies and legal frameworks that divided the imperial social body into “inner” and “outer” groupings along racial, ethnic, linguistic, and spatial axes (McDonald 2017). "The Drugstore as Contact Zone," on the other hand, highlights the interrelationship between a capitalist networking of space and a core-periphery / West - Orient spatial ideology as it explores the circulation and commodification of medical knowledge and transformation of marketing in the 1920s.  Other modules explore how the concept of absolute, measurable space itself is crucial to the discursive and material practices of power -- e.g., frontier mappers, air raid planners, possibly even franchise network builders. Scalar's nonlinear environment and visualization tools allow users to explore spatialities conceptually rather than geographically or chronologically, and to consider the multiplicity of spatial relations even within a given historical time and place.

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