Interdisciplinary Research on Space and Power

An Introduction and Critical Reflection

  • Michael Laiho
  • Thomas Spray


In this introductory article, the authors discuss the topic of social constructions of space by deconstructing what are widely referred to in academic studies as hegemonic narratives. In order to introduce a collection of articles critically, however, the authors pay special attention to the ways in which academic studies have traditionally historicised cultural, political and geographical spaces and have therefore played a role in spatial interpretations of nationalism, sovereignty, and territory. References to research findings and observations presented by an interdisciplinary cohort of scholars during a symposium held at Durham University’s Institute for Advanced Studies provide the context for this article. To this end, the authors expand the scope of three of these presentations - comprising a collection of articles exploring nationalism, sovereignty, and territory - and extract common research findings before proceeding to engage more critically with questions about how the various participating disciplines understand space in the context of knowledge and power. The authors conclude that hegemonic narratives relate to individual past, present, and future contexts, as well as to the ways in which academics, politicians, and the wider public interpret them. In conclusion, the authors demonstrate how the relationship between knowledge about space on one hand, and power to construct or interpret space(s) on the other, provides ample opportunity for discussion across disciplines.


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Featured Theme: Narrating, Nation, Sovereignty & Territory