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Discourse in Human Geography

By Rob Shields, Ottawa Canada and Joost Van Loon


This paper considers the status of the virtual in geographical representations and practice. Not only is the virtuality of, for example, cyberspace an object of geographical analysis but the virtual figures in the ontological and conceptual 'toolkit ' deployed by geog rapher's in their theoretical work. Critical of D eleuze and Bergson, the virtual is defined as a ideal-real- something that is so in essence but not in matter- "real without being actual; ideal without being abstract " (Proust). How is this changing in the context of the greater importance being assigned to the virtual as an unequal space of social action, a medium of power, and as an analytical strategy? In relation to the materiality of everyday life and of cities, how does the virtual figure in geographical discourses and representations? The virtual in geographical representations and practice. The virtual has become a common term across the social sciences. Not only are there objects of geographical analysis such as cyberspace which have a virtual character. The virtual figures in the ontological and conceptual 'toolkit ' deployed by geographer's in their theoretical work. Virtual reality and other computer-mediated virtual environments have been made the object of geographical analysis. Online chat in real time (such as MSN Messenger or ICQ), multi-user discussion fora (such as MUDS and Usenet newsgroups), and online communities which offe

Year: 2011
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