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Fig.: Max Langelott via unsplash

Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Cultural and Social Geography

Geographic Imaginations: People's Sense of Security and Insecurity in a Cross-Generational Comparison

The DFG research project "Geographic Imaginations" focuses on the question to what extent the increase in complexity and institutional re-figuration of spaces is expressed in security-related geographical imaginations. We assume that spatial perceptions are changing dramatically among all population groups due to the processes of globalization, demarcation, de-anchoring, re-embedding and mediatization - and are sometimes leading to great uncertainty, as current public debates on the Brexit referendum in Great Britain or the election results in the USA show. At the same time, it is considered certain that identity and group affiliation are established centrally through local references, for example through the symbolic contrast (and usually affective charge) between "our space" and "the space of others". Subjective knowledge of space - especially when experiencing security and insecurity - is also decisively influenced by the social and cultural contexts of individuals.

Against this background, the project poses the following research-led questions: Which geographical imaginations are relevant for the subjects' sense of security? What role do ideas of “home” play in contrast to “the foreign”, “the near” in contrast to “the distant” or ideas of city, nation and globality? How are the different ideas connected? And how do such geographical imaginations differ among different age groups and in different national and cultural contexts?

Empirically, the question of changes in subjective spatial knowledge will be examined by conducting group discussions and problem-oriented interviews (both based on photoelicitation) at three locations (Vancouver, Berlin, Singapore). We analyze the geographical imaginations of 15-30 year-olds, 35-50 year-olds and 55-70 year-olds. The aim is to derive ideal-typical geographical imaginations according to age, social origin and geographical positioning. Through the use of the visual methodology of photoelicitation we aim at examining the emotional and affective dimension of security-related spatial knowledge. In this research project, the subjective spatial knowledge of different age groups is for the first time studied in a polycontextural manner at the three study sites, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of the contours of a global re-figuration of spaces.

The research project is part of the Collaborative Research Centre 1265 "Re-Figuration of Spaces", which was established by the German Research Foundation (DFG) on 1 January 2018 and will initially be funded until 2021.


For more information on the project, please contact:

Prof. Dr. Ilse Helbrecht: ilse.helbrecht@geo.hu-berlin.de
Dr. Henning Füller: henning.fueller@geo.hu-berlin.de
M.Sc. Anthony Miro Born: miro.born@geo.hu-berlin.de
M.A. Janina Dobrusskin: janina.dobrusskin@hu-berlin.de
M.A. Ylva Kürten: ylva.kuerten@geo.hu-berlin.de

 


Short Project Description in Everyday Language

The research project "Geographic Imaginations" deals with subjective spatial knowledge - i.e. how people imagine the world and various processes and spaces. Whether in discussions via social media, in schools and companies or at the restaurant table: People have ideas about things such as "globalisation", "migration", "Europe", "home" or "nation".

Exactly these ideas are at the centre of the research project. The project investigates how people of different ages imagine the world and which ideas influence their own perception of security and insecurity. People in three age groups - 15-30 year-olds, 35-50 year-olds and 55-70 year-olds - are asked about their ideas on different spaces and places.

One basic assumption of the research project is that knowledge about the world is no longer acquired in just one place. Therefore, the research project examines how different ideas of space are formed in different places and in exchange with each other. The focus is on the role these ideas play in coping with everyday life and understanding an increasingly complex world.

The research project is part of the Collaborative Research Centre 1265 "Re-Figuration of Spaces", which was established by the German Research Foundation (DFG) on 1 January 2018 and will initially be funded until 2021.


For more information on the project, please contact:

Prof. Dr. Ilse Helbrecht: ilse.helbrecht@geo.hu-berlin.de
Dr. Henning Füller: henning.fueller@geo.hu-berlin.de
M.Sc. Anthony Miro Born: miro.born@geo.hu-berlin.de
M.A. Janina Dobrusskin: janina.dobrusskin@hu-berlin.de
M.A. Ylva Kürten: ylva.kuerten@geo.hu-berlin.de