Past events

RAI Research Seminar: Les Roberts
Thursday 14 October 2021, 03:00pm - 05:00pm
Hits : 1083
by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Thursday 14 October 2021 at 3.00 - 5.00pm (BST)  

Killing space, giving life to space:
interdisciplinary excursions in spatial anthropology


Dr Les Roberts, University of Liverpool

This webinar will be held on Zoom, to register go here: 

In this paper I draw on ideas set out in the book Spatial Anthropology: Excursions in Liminal Space (Roberts, 2018) which have, as their departure point, the constitutive interdisciplinarity of the spatial humanities. The paper is loosely organised around three central provocations. The first of these, space is a ball that bounces here and there, which is attributed to Soto Zen founder Eihei Dogen, is playfully put to work to explore the ineffability of space and the merits of approaching ‘it’ as if a koan. The second provocation, spatial anthropology is not the same thing as the anthropology of space, probes the contention that, howsoever defined, spatial anthropology encompasses orientations and practices that need not align with, or be reducible to, anthropology as a disciplinary field. The third provocation, killing space is the dialectical precondition for the project of giving life to space, is not to argue ‘against space’ (Ingold 2011) but rather to explore how its negation can better inform a phenomenology of space that draws out its embodied and performative affects. By extension, tending to the breathability, pliability and spaciousness of space (or lack of), the paper ponders the question of whether, in the sustainable pursuit of its application, spatial anthropology is itself only of value to the extent that it too can be killed off.


Les Roberts is a Reader in Cultural and Media Studies at the University of Liverpool. The core focus of his work is situated within the interdisciplinary fields of spatial anthropology and spatial humanities. He is author/editor of a number of books that engage with these research areas, including Deep Mapping (2016), Film, Mobility and Urban Space (2012), Liminal Landscapes (2012), and Mapping Cultures (2012). His most recent monograph, Spatial Anthropology: Excursions in Liminal Space, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018 (paperback in 2020).