Hidden Landscapes by Chris Thompson
Geographical Methodology as Spatialization and Topology (Part of “Theorizing Place: Interdisciplinary Trajectories” A Panel Discussion at the Canadian Association of Geographers Meeting, Carleton University, May 27, 2009):
This presentation focuses on the virtuality of place, an object of study which resists specification in material or topographic terms. In effect, place exceeds the boundaries of topography. It cannot be adequately mapped. This raises a methodological conundrum for geography which has only be solved via interdisciplinary innovation, leading geographers into the study of social and cultural categorization, and statistical analysis of spatial data. What is a geographer to do? A relational approach to ‘place’ foregrounds the tissue of geographical space and the multiple flows and passages through it. Multiple passages suggests that geography explore a multiple, n-dimensional topology as a paradigmatic shift out of Cartesian space.
Maybe geographical information systems already work in n-space, but my sense is no, and geographers think of cartography as a 3d and 2d endeavour. Any thoughts? This is a step toward a paper on topology as method for social science in the 21st century, part of my belief that at university level we should teach methodology as something evolving, to think past mastering a particular program and ask ourselves what is it for? And, how do our chosen methods guide how and what we see in our studies?