The Complexities of Space and Place

I remember, back in the days of postmodernism, a colleague, a geographer, was giving a talk on postmodernism and geography.  A few of my colleagues commented, saying something like, "What does geography have to do with pomo?"  Turns out, the answer was a lot: narratives, national identity, notions of the globe and global, the epistemology of space and place.... It just keeps going.

A few years back I went to see the same colleague, my geographer friend, lecture on complexity and geography.  Same response from colleagues, albeit even more ignorant: what is all that complexity stuff and what does it have to do with geography?  Turns out, the answer is, again, a lot: residential mobility and Schelling segregation, networks and the dynamics of space and place within them, global network society, Big Data and geospatial analysis, smart phones and Google maps, mapping disease spread, social mobilities, the blurring of spatial boundaries, the geography of the internet....  Again, it just keeps going.

In fact, in my mind, one of the most exciting new area of analysis in the complexity sciences today is the complexities of space and place.  One of my students, in fact, who just graduated with his bachelors, is heading on to study complexity and geospatial analysis, and he majored in sociology, with an emphasis on health and health care.

In his mind, and in mine, this is "where it is at in medical sociology," in many ways--from the sociology of population and community health to epidemiology and the geography of health and wellbeing to the built environment and urban planning to health behaviors and networks.  And, don't forget all the methods, from agent-based models to networks to GIS software.

There are so many people to mention and lots of websites and new centers and areas of research to highlight.  Impossible for a quick blog.

Here, however, are a few to get you going:

Michael Batty and the complexities of cities

Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

Nigel Thrift and the geography of complexity

David O'Sullivan and geography and complexity science

Barabasi and colleagues on mobility in networks

John Urry and social mobilities

Manuel Castells and global network society

Complexities of place and health

lots and lots of stuff.  very exciting work.

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