Aerial View of Brandeis UniversitySpace and Spatial Relations

Clare Hemmings has proposed that we consider space and spatial relations in three ways:

(1) geographically concrete spaces: a neighborhood or residential zone, an electoral district, a shopping mall, a bar, a classroom, a temple;

(2) spaces of articulation: the imaginary, conceptual, or discursive spaces that represent the meanings we assign to concrete spaces and spatial practices, such as "the public sphere," the space of personal privacy, or an "imagined community" such as "the queer community" or "the traditional family"; and

(3) performative spaces: spaces that we may occupy only temporarily and in which we construct provisional / partial (dis)identifications, relationships, and alliances which may then shift as we shift our performative relations to space. 

Source: Clare Hemmings, "From Landmarks to Spaces: Mapping the Territory of a Bisexual Genealogy," in Queers in Space: Communities, Public Places, Sites of Resistance, ed. Gordon Brent Ingram, Anne-Marie Bouthillette, and Yolanda Retter (Seattle, WA: Bay Press, 1997), 153.


The artist-scholars participating in The Mapping Brandeis Project have considered such questions as:

  • How do geographically concrete spaces such as private homes, bars and clubs, a lounge or office on campus, a street, an electoral district, or a neighborhood become spaces of articulation?
  • How do identity groups construct or claim concrete social spaces in order to articulate their beliefs, make their practices and commitments visible to others, make certain identifications feasible (and foreclose others), and develop, claim, and represent normative (or counter-normative) claims about personhood and citizenship?
  • What benefits might there be in making "spaces" rather than "identities" the focus of our political claims?
  • How can we use these three concepts of space to define and locate "bodies"?  In what ways is "the body" a concrete space? a "space of articulation"? a "performative space"?
  • How is spatiality—our orientation toward other bodies, objects, and institutions within natural and built environments—productive of experience? How does spatiality enable affective investment in practices, identifications, relations, commitments, obligations, etc.?
  • How are spaces (always already) occupied multiply – that is, by more and different identifications and desires, commitments, and practices than they appear to represent and make legible?
  • What happens when we cross borderlines – as transmigrants, as participants in forced or chosen diasporic movements, as members of upwardly or downwardly mobile status groups, as individuals whose identifications and allegiances cross spaces (including body spaces), as members of identity groups moving from periphery to center or from center to periphery of the social landscape?