Objectives of the CRC

The DFG-funded collaborative research center “Re-Figuration of Spaces” (CRC 1265) focuses on the wide-ranging spatial restructuring and new spatial orders created by intensified forms of transnational economic activity, radical changes in political geographies worldwide, the development and proliferation of digital communication technologies and the global increase in the circulation of people and goods since the late 1960s.

The basic thesis of the CRC 1265 is that processes of social change, hitherto summarized under the label of globalization, have led to renegotiations, rearrangements and transformations in how people relate to their spaces. A programmatic starting point is the idea that, complementary to temporal acceleration, spatial action is undergoing a significant increase in complexity in the form of polycontexturalization, translocalization and mediatization.

With its analyses of processes of spatial transformation, the collaborative research center aims to contribute to a better understanding and explanation of current social conflicts and uncertainties that threaten to destabilize societies. By including architecture and urban planning – a first in a DFG funded collaborative research center –, we also hope to advance alternative models for the design of public spaces. Close collaborations across the disciplines of sociology, geography, architecture, media and communication studies, urban anthropology, urban planning and the arts promise opportunities to develop novel approaches and innovative methodologies in the study of space, and ultimately enable us to flesh out the future profile of transdisciplinary spatial research.

For its second funding period, the CRC has outlined three key priorities: The research program focuses (1.) on the role of conflicts in processes of spatial construction, particularly in and between different spatial figures. (2.) The phenomenon of polycontexturalization and the way it is subjectively managed will be further explored and specified. These empirical investigations also imply the task of identifying and differentiating newly emerging spatial arrangements. Focusing on similarities and differences as well as the multiple interconnections of the spaces studied in widely different societies around the globe, the CRC moreover pursues a comparative perspective based on the concept of (3.) multiple spatialities.

The overall goal of the CRC 1265 is to develop an empirically grounded theory of current social transformations in terms of a spatial-communicative refiguration. This aim can only be achieved if the consolidation of existing and the development of new methods of theory-based empirical research on spatial phenomena succeed. Therefore, synthesizing theoretical work and methodologies from different disciplines along with new empirical research is a key priority of the CRC. To this end, the CRC has developed and experimented with new research formats designed to ensure the integration of our joint work and the proactive involvement of all participating researchers in the research network.

Key results of the CRC’s work are collated and communicated to a wider audience by a public relations project using the resources and means of contemporary art. Other measures of knowledge transfer and science communication include the CRC’s blog and podcast series as well as various public events.

  • Results of the first funding period

    In its first phase, the CRC 1265 pursued the overarching goal of outlining and redefining spatial research anew, thereby conducting fundamental theoretical work toward the development of a theory of social order as spatial-communicative refiguration. Through the work of the CRC, the concept of refiguration has been further elaborated to denote a process that is spatially expressed at the level of knowledge, communicative action, practices as well as institutions. The conducted empirical analyses advanced an in-depth specification of the concepts of translocalization, mediatization and polycontexturalization. The CRC moreover identified four socially dominant spatial figures: territorial space, network space, trajectorial space, and place. In their interplay, these spatial figures shape action and are often accompanied by contradictory logics and resulting tensions. Refiguration processes were, however, also observed to produce new, often cyber-physical, spatial arrangements. The results of the first phase form the foundations to orient and refocus the CRC’s continued work.