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  Any theory of what constitutes valid knowledge; also the academic study of what constitutes valid knowledge. In the 1960s and 1970s modern human geography invoked \'epistemology\' in both a general sense — to examine \'all geographical knowledge, scientific and other: how it is acquired, transmitted, altered and integrated into conceptual systems; and how the horizon of geography varies among individuals and groups\' (Lowenthal, 1961) — and in a more particular sense to interrogate the \'claims to know\' made by both positivism and non-positivist philosophies (Gregory, 1978). Until recently the dominant epistemologies in human geography were foundational (cf. foundationalism), and, like the critiques of them, both made systematic claims about the conditions that made knowledge possible and used those claims to adjudicate, decisively and unambiguously, between \'legitimate\' and \'illegitimate\' knowledges. These policing exercises were usually conducted under the authorizing (and authoritarian) sign of the philosophy of science — what Rorty called \'Philosophy with a capital P\' (cf. pragmatism) — and they included critical rationalism, phenomenology, positivism, and realism.

The advance of post-structuralism in human geography has since radically revised discussions of epistemology within the discipline. Many scholars would now accept that (i) ontology is \'grounded\' in epistemology — that claims about how we know what the world is like underwrite claims about what the world is like; and (ii) that all epistemologies, however formal and abstract they might appear within academic discourse, are embedded in social practices. Critiques of the dominant epistemologies of human geography have drawn attention to a strategic intersection between vision and visuality and the production of space, and revealed how the epistemological spaces of human geography (i) locate the authoritative position from which the world is to be seen, and (ii) provide the horizon within which it becomes possible for the world to be viewed in particular (\'valid\', \'intelligible\', \'meaningful\') ways.

Two examples help to clarify these claims. Rose (1993) suggests that in its hegemonic forms the production of geographical knowledge is made to turn around a distanced and detached observer, constructed as an unmarked and unproblematized sovereign subject, whose rational gaze sweeps across an object world that can be made fully known and hence exhaustively mapped as a transparent space. Drawing in some part on Foucault\'s archaeologies of knowledge, Rose describes this project as a series of \'epistemic exclusions\' which are conducted under the sign of masculinism: they are implicated in the production of a masculinized \'space of the Same\' that is constituted through — and hence depends upon — the identification and exclusion of a feminized \'space of the other\'. Rose insists that these are more than purely intellectual operations. For these exclusions \'are enacted by and impact on specific people\' (and specifically women): thus the inhabitants of the \'space of the Other\' are doubly marked as those who are not to know — because they are made to occupy a position outside that of the viewing subject — but who can none the less be known. This critique is a pivotal moment in Rose\'s construction of a feminist geography (see also Rose, 1995).

Similar cases have been made in relation to the other ways in which positions and horizons are marked. Thus Gregory (1994, 1998) advances a parallel argument about human geography\'s complicity in \'the world as exhibition\' and its epistemic exclusions that were conducted under the sign of Eurocentrism and through the advance of a colonial, intrinsically colonizing modernity. Following Mitchell (1988) — who was also indebted to Foucault — Gregory argues that, within this optic and from its dominant perspective, the certainty of representation that is held to be the guarantee of truth by foundational epistemologies turns on the establishment of a distance between a sovereign subject who is endowed with the authorized power to represent and a \'subject-ed\' world which is to be represented. On one side is \'representation\': mounted and staged from within the space of the world-as-exhibition, its horizon of possibility is mapped by the positivity of what Heidegger called \'the ground plan\', from which the knowing subject is supposed to derive meaning, coherence and order. On the other side is \'reality\': formed by \'the things-in-themselves\', this is seen as \'a pristine realm existing prior to all representation\', \'an external realm of pure existence\', distinguished by an essential absence, namely \'the ground plan\'. Within this epistemic framework, order not only becomes visible in opposition to the disorder of things: it is made to appear through a traverse from outside that at once reveals and represses its intrinsically colonizing powers (cf. Orientalism). It is through the production of what, within Foucault\'s system of thought, can be construed as \'a space of constructed visibility\' — through the practices that produce and sustain its exclusions, extensions and incursions — that the world is thus made open to a colonizing \'objectivity\' that sanctions imperial measurement and regulation. This is not a detached exercise either; it is instead implicated in the epistemic violence of colonialism (cf. post-colonialism).

Similar arguments could be made in relation to other markings, including the presumed class position of the knowing subject. In every case, contributions like these re-describe the production of knowledge as always the production of a situated knowledge: always partial, imperfect, and constitutively implicated in relations of power. Dixon and Jones (1998) have generalized this emerging account of epistemology to argue that human geography, like the other mainstream humanities and social sciences, has been triangulated by three epistemologies (whose effects can be traced in the previous paragraphs). They are:

{img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } Cartesian perspectivalism, \'which lineates the world with respect to a central point\'; {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } Ocularcentrism, \'which privileges vision from an elevated vantage point from which the world may be surveilled in its totality\' (cf. surveillance); and {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } The epistemology of the grid, \'a procedure for locating and segmenting social life so that it may be captured, measured and interrogated\'.Dixon and Jones focus on the third because it \'enables what has been lineated and seen to be segmented\'. In their view, the \'epistemology of the grid\' has generated \'the stable, stratified, hierarchical ontology\' of spatial analysis: indeed, they describe spatial analysis as the culmination of the grid epistemology within geography. The same emphasis on segmentation (cf. abstraction) and stratification can also be detected in the successor projects to spatial science conducted under the sign of realism. Dixon and Jones insist that these segmentations and stratifications have been embedded in our \'ways of living\', which explains not only the \'success\' of spatial analysis — \'the explanatory power of spatial analysis is due precisely to the deployment of the grid in the study of the grid\' — but also the insidious powers of a much longer deployment of political technologies of space.

What are the implications of critiques like these for the production and interrogation of geographical knowledge? First, a reappraisal of the privileges that used to be accorded to \'Philosophy with a capital P\' for its capacity to adjudicate unambiguously between competing claims to knowledge (Baynes, Bohman and McCarthy, 1987). There is little doubt that the parade of Philosophy through human geography that distinguished the discipline in the 1970s and 1980s seems to have become much less prevalent in the 1990s. Secondly, a suspicion towards totalizing accounts and an attentiveness to the production, proliferation and extension of \'local knowledges\' and \'insurgent knowledges\' and their regimes of truth (Rouse, 1987; Barrett, 1991). Here too there are clear signs that human geography has responded to the critique of so-called Grand Theory and worried away at its own epistemic imperialism. Thirdly, a need to reconstruct the genealogies of segmentation, to question the categories that result, and to prise them open and insist on their contingent, interested and indefinite rather than \'defined\', \'detached\' and \'calibrated\' status (Thrift, 1996). The history of concepts made little headway in human geography until recently, but there is now a much more general realization that \'posing questions to categories\' is also posing questions to power: that \'the category is not only the result of power, it is also a condition for its deployment\' (Dixon and Jones, 1998). Fourthly, a recognition of the ways in which knowledge is produced by embodied subjects so that it is irredeemably corporeal and not purely cognitive. Human geography\'s interest in the body is thus more than a cultural or political sensibility; it is also profoundly epistemological, and human geographers nurturing the roots of knowledge in embodiment will also require an awareness of those knowledges rooted in the erotic, pleasured body (Binnie, 1997; cf. queer theory).

Thrift (1996, pp. 32-5) includes most of these desiderata on his check-list of what he calls a weak epistemology for human geography and social inquiry: see non-representational theory. Rose (1997, p. 319) sharpens a similar point in an elegant and concise plea that summarizes the present, predominantly critical attitude towards traditional epistemology:

We cannot know everything, nor can we survey power as if we can fully understand, control or redistribute it. What we may be able to do is something rather more modest but, perhaps, rather more radical: to inscribe into our research [and teaching] practices some absences and fallibilities, while recognizing that the significance of this does not rest entirely in our own hands.(DG) References Barrett, M. 1991: The politics of truth: from Marx to Foucault. Cambridge: Polity Press; Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Baynes, K., Bohman, J. and McCarthy, T., eds, 1987: After Philosophy. End or transformation? Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Binnie, J. 1997: Coming out of geography: towards a queer epistemology? Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 15: 223-38. Dixon, D. and Jones, J.P. 1998: My dinner with Derrida, or spatial analysis and post-structuralism do lunch. Environment and Planning A 30: 247-60. Gregory, D. 1978: Ideology, science and human geography. London: Hutchinson; New York: St. Martins Press. Gregory, D. 1994: Geographical imaginations. Cambridge, MA and Oxford: Blackwell. Gregory, D. 1998: Power, knowledge and geography. Geographische Zeitschrift 86: 70-93. Haraway, D. 1991: Situated knowledges: the science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. In her Simians, cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature. London and New York: Routledge, 183-201. Lowenthal, D. 1961: Geography, experience and imagination: towards a geographical epistemology. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 51: 241-60. Mitchell, T. 1988: Colonising Egypt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rose, G. 1993: Feminism and geography: the limits of geographical knowledge. Cambridge: Polity Press. Rose, G. 1995: Distance, surface, elsewhere: a feminist critique of the space of phallocentric self/knowledge. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 13: 761-81. Rose, G. 1997: Situated knowledges: positionality, reflexivities and other tactics. Progress in Human Geography 21: 305-20. Rouse, J. 1987: Knowledge and power: toward a political philosophy of science. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Thrift, N. 1996: Spatial formations. London and New York: Sage.

Suggested Reading Barrett (1991). Dixon and Jones (1998).



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