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Of eagles and flies: orientations toward the site

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The macro-micro distinction is one of the most powerful in the human and physical sciences. In this article we challenge the macro by positing an alternative that recognises the intricacies and complexities of material geographies. We employ the Latin proverb – Aquila non captat muscas (Eagles don't catch flies) – to epitomise our position. Instead of looking to general theory – the bird's eye view – we argue for interrogating the ontological and methodological implications of a reciprocal, but antithetical, perspective – that of the flies. We call this alternative the site, an ontology that attempts to account for the different and varying political possibilities – virtually infinite and ‘un-catalogue-able’– constantly at work in the world. The site is a formulation that recognises social life as a realm of infinite singularity and variability, where matter is immanently self-organising and pure difference unfolds. We explore the spatiality of the site through the concepts of topology and difference and then develop four methodological orientations for exploring the terrain of situated practices enmeshed in and unfolding through sites.
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Keywords: difference; methodology; politics; site ontology; subjectivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA, Email: [email protected] 2: School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA , [email protected], Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 September 2010

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