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‘Knowing’, absence and presence: the spatial and temporal depth of relations
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Dr Cathrine Degnen
Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
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Through the lens of ‘knowing’, which is simultaneously an expression in colloquial English and a set of cognate practices, this article considers the ways in which relations come to have ontological depth which is both spatial and temporal. The significance of ‘knowing’ people and places in everyday life exceeds a simple ‘familiarity with’ or ‘knowledge of’. Instead, ‘knowing’ speaks to what it is that is said to matter in the webs of relations which connect (and sometimes disconnect) people and place, connections that accumulate in uneven and unequal ways. The article thus builds on recent literature in human geography on absence, presence and post-industrial ruins and weds it with anthropological theory on connectedness, relatedness and ruination to examine ‘knowing’. This cross-fertilization of disciplinary perspectives permits me to pay critical attention to seemingly incommensurate and yet overlapping webs of relations (relations with people alive and dead, relations with places present and absent, relations with memory, relations with change and the past). Following Navaro-Yashin’s recent work in Northern Cyprus (2009), I argue that ‘knowing’ in regards to absence sheds light on the theoretical bind of object- versus subject-centred approaches.
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