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Theme 7 – Situated Knowledge

This research aims at linking a historical approach and an epistemological approach of situated knowledge. By shifting the questioning from geography to the knowledge of space, we wish to go beyond a disciplinary survey to implement an approach that focuses on circulations between actors, from the scientific field or from other fields, and between the different registers of geographical knowledge. The formulation in terms of situation is different from the “contextual” approach, which makes the context a determining factor for the action and frequently suggests a broad and relatively rigid definition. On the contrary, we wish to take into account the interactions between the conditions for understanding and the agent, and to consequently integrate the variability of the actor’s positions according to particular situations.

Two orientations will be favored in the analysis of a series of situations:

On the one hand, an analysis of the concrete conditions of the relationship between knowledge and power, which are renewed through the analysis of professional practices. The issue of administrative knowledge in the framework of long-term land use planning policies is linked to the role of the knowledge of space within big institutions often labeled today as public service rather than territorial service. The study of the use of maps, during the printing revolution, aims at shedding light on the dissemination processes in parallel to the changes in users’ practices – including geographers – that go as far as modifying the nature of the professions using them. We investigate the opposition between the personal and the “made-up” reactions of geographers when facing ethical issues during their research as well as the norms related to their profession (“ethical injunction”).

On the other hand, an analysis of the networks and of the circulation of knowledge. The exploration of modern geography is pursued by evaluating the scale of its re-inclusion in scholar networks and in epistemological perspectives that are increasingly interdisciplinary and international. This gives us the opportunity to question the interdependencies between the scientific sphere and the spheres of the action. The studies implemented in the context of this axis also explore the question of transmissions at school, from geography classes to more specialized curriculums, both from the point of view of the composition of the programs and of the didactical implementation of essential issues such as sustainable development or Europe, which portray the strain between education and teaching, or even the dissemination of Geographical Information Systems in secondary education programs which encourages the construction of new relationships to space. In a colonial situation, our studies insist on the circulation of geographical knowledge between the scholar, economic and political worlds, by articulating the colonial, imperial and trans-imperial dimensions of actors. The relationship between spatial and judicial knowledge in the context of practices of territorial appropriation in a colonial situation will also be explored.

Reformulating this line of research according to previous years confirms and points out the emphasis placed on the relationship between geographical knowledge and practices. This relationship is questioned as it is central to the definition of the concept of spatiality, and as it consequently contributes to the understanding of processes of production of spaces in the past as well as in the present.

Persons in charge: Florence Deprest, Nicolas Verdier

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