The emotional significance of space: geographical imaginations of globalization in rural eastern Germany

Authors: Janina Dobrusskin*, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Ilse Helbrecht, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Topics: Social Geography, Political Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: geographical imaginations, emotional geography, geography of affects, feminist political geography, feminist geopolitics, political geography, visual methods, photo elicitation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Roosevelt 5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In recent years spatial formations changed radically due to the plurality of ways that globalization has
manifested itself. Particularly in the proliferation of transnational exchange and communication. These
processes not only alter space on a structural level, but also influence the subjective geographical
imaginations people hold. Following David Harvey’s reflections on geographical imaginations, we
emphasize the importance of space for an understanding of society. We assume that some of the
changes due to globalization challenge peoples’ spatial references and thereby lead to feelings of
anxiety and insecurity. These emotions are distinctly interrelated with geographical imaginations and
can have political consequences. For instance, the rise of new right-wing populist movements can be
interpreted as an implication of destabilized local references. Therefore, in our empirical study of
individuals´ imaginations in rural eastern Germany, we are interested in the emotional significance of
spaces and places with focus on feelings of (in)security. While examining these geographical
imaginations, we acknowledge that the development of geopolitical worldviews is not merely an
individual cognitive process, but is actively shaped in interplay with existing discourses, situated every
day practices and embodied experiences. To understand peoples’ geographical imaginations, we make
use of the method of photo elicitation. Interviewees are shown photographs of different spaces and
places on various scales to elicit their emotions and affects. With our results about the ways in which
altered notions of belonging are expressed in security-related geographical imaginations, we can draw
conclusions about the political role emotions and affects play for geographical imaginations.

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