Becoming Geography’s others: thinking through antonyms

Becoming Geography’s others: thinking through antonyms

Rob Shaw (Newcastle University)

“Geographers who count on the stability of points should beware. They may not be what they are since they are always already becoming-other” (Doel, 2000, p.122)

All research projects have their others: people, places or concepts which sit in opposition to our main topic of research.  These oppositions often function to given a sense of stability to our research. If we know what something is not, we can start the work of deciding what it is.

This session invites geographers from across the discipline to explore their research through a paper focusing on some sort of ‘opposite’ to their main topic, social group, place or concept (for example, the relational to the non-relational, a shopping mall to a garbage dump, the day to the night). Papers might attempt to break down the binaries between the two items being considered, or they may show the ways in different actors carry out work in order to (re)produce the boundaries between them. Reflections could use the consideration of the antonym to help define, understand, explore or elucidate something about their main topic of research, to consider the positionality and power involved in the production of opposites, or alternatively presenters might offer insights from their existing work to comment on the antonym. The aim, following Doel’s quote above, is to destabilize the ‘points’ that constitute our research by attempting, and failing, in the act of becoming our research’s others.

Contributions from across geography or outside the discipline are welcome, as are presentations where the content is speculative.


This is the website for the History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (HPGRG) of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG)

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