Rethinking the geographies of cultural ‘objects’ through digital technologies: interface, network and friction

Rose, Gillian (2016). Rethinking the geographies of cultural ‘objects’ through digital technologies: interface, network and friction. Progress in Human Geography, 40(3) pp. 334–351.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0309132515580493

Abstract

This paper addresses how geographers conceptualize cultural artifacts. Many geographical studies of cultural objects continue to depend heavily on an approach developed as part of the ‘new cultural geography’ in the 1980s. That approach examined the cultural politics of representations of place, space and landscape by undertaking close readings of specific cultural objects. Over three decades on, the cultural field (certainly in the Global North) has changed fundamentally, as digital technologies for the creation and dissemination of meaning have become extraordinarily pervasive and diverse. Yet geographical studies of cultural objects have thus far neglected to consider the conceptual and methodological implications of this shift. This paper argues that such studies must begin to map the complexities of digitally-mediated cultural production, circulation and interpretation. It will argue that, to do this, it is necessary to move away from the attentive gaze on stable cultural objects as formulated by some of the new cultural geography, and instead focus on mapping the dynamics of the production, circulation and modification of meaning at digital interfaces and across frictional networks.

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