Space: Complex and Contested

A wide paved walkway along the estuary showing a bike rider, a seat and grass. There is lots of space.The notions of space and place can be confusing – they are words used interchangeably and to most people mean the same thing – a place to play is the same as a space to play. But to geographers, planners and urban designers, they are not the same thing. Rob Imrie writes an interesting essay on “Space” in Keywords in Disability Studies.  He focuses on the people who are left out of spaces, and who have spaces and places created just for “them”. Space is complex and contested in his view.

He writes that however space is defined, it is intrinsic to human existence. Space as place is the part of the space the body takes up. In other words, place is what happens when a body takes up the space. But whose bodies are allowed in our spaces? The impaired body, says Imrie, has been constructed as not normal and ‘out of place’ in everyday environments. Therefore it has no place.

Imrie’s essay, Space, is part of a 2015 book, Keywords in Disability Studies and not a free read. 

Imrie has posted almost all his publications on ResearchGate. It’s a long list.