A note on scale in human geography

Authors: Rebecca Van Stokkum*, University of California - Davis
Topics: Urban Geography, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: scale, UPE, Deleuze, human geography, urban planning, information
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 23
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The information-based disconnect between natural processes and local planning is a microcosm of Western dichotomistic perception of nature and society. The goal of producing greater equity through research in human geography requires empirically robust, multi-scaled methodologies that characterize natural processes with a reflexive eye. However, Urban Political Ecology (UPE) often struggles with definitions of scale related to (G)lobal scale problems in which even newly powerful (c)ities can come to seem insignificant. At the same time, powerful information tools in local planning make possible increasingly inequitable participation in political units like the city. Previous reviews about scale in human geography have brought out epistemological and ontological conflations in scale theories and sought to expand Marxian methods beyond structural theories. Using theories of identity and repetition from Giles Deleuze combined with a sociological reading of Marx’s concept of the human universal, this paper suggests that methodological and empirical factors highlighted in the scale debate might be clarified by increased attention to a flavor of social construction that embraces reality while admitting the human dimension of perception in science. To this end, this paper argues for a scale-sensitive, flat human geography reflexive enough to address public engagement in resource delivery processes and powerful enough to bring about change.

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