Place, Poststructuralism, and Informal Urbanism

Event Date: 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Phelps Hall 3512

Event Contact: 

Andrea Ballatore (

The concept of place as it is most often used in the humanities tends to be defined phenomenologically, in terms of human experience, and to be opposed to space, with its objectivist connotations. For many poststructuralist thinkers, however, and for geographers of a “quantitative” or “scientific” bent, the phenomenological conception of place is too subjective to provide a sound object of scientific inquiry. The phenomenological conception comes to the fore in literary and artistic expression, but runs the risk, as Fredric Jameson has emphasized, of losing sight of the structural forces that condition human agency. A critically viable conception of place, then, should seek to balance the subject-centered focus of phenomenological inquiry against the demand for greater awareness of structural forces, including geographical, biological, and economic constraints. Building on my current research on shanty towns, squatter cities, and other kinds of “in-between” places, I seek to show how these two kinds of awareness can come together in a more dynamic conception of place.

This event is sponsored by UCSB's Center for Spatial Studies.

Eric Prieto is Chair of the Department of French and Italian at UCSB. He is the author of Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Listening In: Music, Mind, and the Modernist Narrative (Nebraska 2002), as well as numerous articles on literary spatial studies.

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