Mythic Positivism, Fluid Epistemologies, and Replacing Geography’s Default Positions

Authors: Alex Colucci*, Kent State University
Topics: Geographic Thought, Social Theory, Political Geography
Keywords: social theory, geographic thought, critical geography, abolition, epistemology, alienation
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the face of a limiting and omnipresent positivism in geography, radical/critical approaches have collectively faltered in effectively challenging this hegemony and replacing the default positions maintained by it (apolitical value-neutrality; objectivity in analysis). While the wide variety of epistemological approaches in radical/critical geography is significant and incisive, this array of difference has often meant discord between approaches on how best to critique and change the present condition of the world, and the discipline itself. This paper addresses these interrelated issues of an apolitical, dominant positivism and discordant critical response in three parts. First, by briefly deconstructing the mythic language formations of positivist geography, which prioritizes the indifferent exchange of produced knowledge. Then, by using dialectics to draw connections between the tensions in different radical/critical epistemologies and thus advance the notion of fluid (geographical) epistemology (something akin to post qualitative inquiry). Finally, by thinking how fluid geographical epistemology, once enacted, can do the work of replacing geography’s default positions, in the process producing both a more just discipline and equitable world. Enacting fluid epistemologies requires the development of shared critical language formations. To avoid hegemony in the process of replacement, crucial engagement with abolition epistemologies, and conceptually with logocentrism, abstraction, and alienation, is necessary.

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