anthropological study of boundaries, I review major approaches to boundary plants in the social sciences, as well as recent literature on space, place, and agency. Finally, I offer three short case studies from recent fieldwork showing how and why these
A Global Space for expanding transnational capital
Juan Manuel Sandoval Palacios
production led to the emergence of transnational or Global Spaces in different parts of the world, one of which is located at the US–México border (along the borderlands and border states of both countries). In this Global Space a subregional accumulation
Mary P. Corcoran, Jane Gray, and Michel Peillon
This article aims to demonstrate the significant role children play in new suburban communities, and in particular, the extent to which their circuits of sociability contribute to social cohesion in the suburbs. The discussion is located within the field of sociology of childhood, which argues that children are active agents who help to create and sustain social bonds within their neighborhoods. Drawing on focus group discussions and short essays by children on “The place where I live,” we paint a picture of how suburban life is interpreted and experienced from a child's perspective. We argue that children develop a particular suburban sensibility that structures their view of their estate, the wider neighborhood, and the metropolitan core. Although children express considerable degrees of satisfaction with suburban life, they are critical of the forces that increasingly limit their access to suburban public space.
J. Donald Hughes
Henry David Thoreau remarked that he had traveled widely—in Concord, Massachusetts. An intentionally contradictory statement, it is nonetheless true if the landscape is composed of many interpenetrating biomes and cultural uses. Fields and forests, groves and gardens, towns and temples form the tesserae of a landscape mosaic embodying the interpenetration of culture and nature, and while such elements provide diversity, they can also, paradoxically, mold integrity. The integrity of nature, in the sense of the completeness of the ecosystem that is present in a place, invests that place with power and lays a claim on sentient beings. Mosaic landscapes have a higher degree of biological diversity than monocultures because they manifest ecotonality, and they are spiritual stimuli for the psyches of those who live within and travel through them. Maintaining the variety of elements within the mosaic, and preventing effacement by huge, land-altering projects where "culture" disregards nature, is a moral imperative. The arrangement of tesserae in a particular landscape mosaic must not be haphazard, but should make both cultural and natural sense, following the underlying geology, the paths of celestial events, and the places where myth and history have resonated, binding cultural meaning to the fabric of the land. Such a pattern leaves areas of varying habitats where biodiversity may flourish. In a future when humans will inhabit the Earth sustainably, the concept of the landscape mosaic may serve as an organizing principle.
Technological Mediation, Oceanic Imaginaries, and Future Depths
Remote technologies and digitally mediated representations now serve as a central mode of interaction with hard-to-reach sea spaces and places. This article reviews the literature on varied scholarly engagements with the sea and on the oceanic application of technologies—among them geographic information systems, remotely operated vehicles, and autonomous underwater vehicles—that allow people to envision and engage with deep and distant oceanic spaces. I focus on the extension of a digital and disembodied human presence in the oceans and the persistence of frontier fictions, in which the sea figures as a site of future-oriented possibilities. Finally, I ask what the emphasis on “seeing” through technological mediation means for how we imagine vast spaces, and consider how these elements of the oceanic imaginary can be productively complicated by drawing attention to the materiality of the oceans and the scalar politics of dynamic spaces.
Ireland’s transition from a predominantly rural to a (sub)urban society over the course of the twentieth century coincided with fundamental changes in its socio-cultural and environmental fabric (Corcoran et al. 2007; Moore and Scott 2005; Punch 2004).1 In particular, the recent suburbanization of many Irish towns and cities has raised interesting questions about the spatial organization of human social life. How important is public space for democratic participation? What kinds of spaces do people require to engage with others, or to get involved in community activities? Can we use spatial resources more sustainably and, if so, what are the consequences of such a transition for public and private spaces?
The Politics of Life after Earth
This article examines the reinvigoration of outer space imaginaries in the era of global environmental change, and the impacts of these imaginaries on Earth. Privatized space research mobilizes fears of ecological, political, or economic catastrophe to garner support for new utopian futures, or the search for Earth 2.0. These imaginaries reflect dominant global discourses about environmental and social issues, and enable the flow of earthly resources toward an extraterrestrial frontier. In contrast, eco-centric visions emerging from Gaia theory or feminist science fiction project post-earthly life in terms that are ecological, engaged in multispecies relations and ethics, and anticapitalist. In these imaginaries, rather than centering humans as would-be destroyers or saviors of Earth, our species becomes merely instrumental in launching life—a multispecies process—off the planet, a new development in deep evolutionary time. This article traces these two imaginaries and how they are reshaping material and political earthly life.
Un-Earthing an Epoch
Valerie Olson and Lisa Messeri
As “the Anthropocene” emerges as a geological term and environmental analytic, this paper examines its emerging rhetorical topology. We show that Anthropocene narratives evince a macroscale division between an “inner” and “outer” environment. This division situates an Anthropocenic environment that matters in the surface zone between Earth's subsurface and the extraterrestrial “outer spaces” that we address here. We review literature in the sciences and social sciences to show how contemporary environmental thinking has been informed by understandings of Earth's broader planet-scaled environmental relations. Yet, today's Anthropocene conversation draws analytic attention inward and downward. Bringing in literature from scholars who examine the role of the extraterrestrial and outer environmental perspectives in terrestrial worlds, we suggest that Anthropocenic theorizations can productively incorporate inclusive ways of thinking about environments that matter. We argue for keeping “Anthropocene” connected to its spatial absences and physical others, including those that are non-anthropos in the extreme.
Eamonn Slater and Michel Peillon
This article argues that the physical structure of the front garden and its ecosystem is determined by an ensemble of diverse social and natural processes. The essential social form is that of visuality, an abstract compositional force that provides conventions for assessing objects as well as for reshaping their surface countenance and establishing their location within the garden. Accordingly, the social processes of visuality are materially realized in the labor processes of gardening, while their consumption is mediated through the concrete process of gazing. The identified social processes include the prospect, aesthetic, and panoptic dimensions of visuality. Labor conceives and creates them, while the physical structures and the natural processes reproduce and maintain them beyond the production time attributed to gardening. But they are increasingly undermined by the natural tendency of the plant ecosystem to grow. Consequently, the essential contradiction of the front garden is how the laws and tendencies of the plant ecosystem act as a countertendency to the social forms of visuality. This article demonstrates that beneath the surface appearance, there exists complex relationships between nature and society in this space we call the front garden.
This article examines the nature and trajectory of various conservationist campaigns in Ireland that have focused on the integrity of the landscape and the protection of public space. “Issue histories” of disputes over Ireland's natural and built heritage such as protests at the historic Viking site at Woodquay in Dublin and at the ancient site of the High Kings at Tara are used to show how conservation advocacy is part of a much wider movement that contests dominant notions of development. This paper conceptualizes “rural sentiment” as a reflexive form of conservation, which has shaped many heritage campaigns in a changing Ireland where rapid economic growth and unchecked property development have threatened the integrity of many rural and urban environments.