I am quite happy to tell you that I will be presenting a paper at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Boston this April. Actually, I wanted to go to last year’s meeting in San Francisco too, but the deadlines were right in the middle of my dissertation, defense, and getting new job as a postdoc phase of turmoil, so that I was not able to apply. Things were not as stressful this season, therefore I found the time to craft an abstract. This is what I am going to talk about during the session Thinking Geography:
Entering a building or any other spatial setting, people encounter a new spatial-material and social constellation. This constellation envelops those who enter the setting. All kinds of impressions intrude upon those who enter, thus changing the things they perceive and the way they act. Noises, light and darkness, smells, the texture of surfaces, and many other aspects of the surroundings present themselves to the perception of those who enter. However, those entering a setting bring certain intentions with them. They are involved in certain activities and they follow bodily and mental routines. Thus they also produce an envelope of their own, which regulates the distance to their surroundings, their perceptions, and their actions. In consequence, the envelope is created both by people themselves and by their surroundings. In this presentation, I will use a phenomenologically informed approach to investigate spatialized activities. Thus I will show how the process of envelopment produces social control in ways that are hard to recognize and trace. Presenting video recordings taken in railway terminals in Germany and Scandinavia, I will demonstrate the subtle ways in which people relate to their spatial-material-social environments, thus opening a new perspective on how to understand issues of social control: a perspective that takes perception, bodies and materiality into view.
I am really looking forward to meeting many people who I haven’t met for two or three years – the AAG meeting usually is a very good occasion to get back into touch.