RE: real and virtual worlds: third space

From: Eugene Matusov (
Date: Sun Jan 04 2004 - 18:51:08 PST

I want to thank Iraj again for wonderful references and quote David Butz's
article "Resistance, Representation, and the Third Space.."
/butz.pdf+%22third+space%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8> &hl=en&ie=UTF-8 defining The
Third Space (see below).





Resistance as Third Space


It was Bhabha - again - who gave us, embedded in his larger discussion of
hybridity, a vague link between resistance and a concept of third space:
"The process of cultural hybridity gives rise to something different,
something new and unrecognisable, a new area of negotiation of meaning and
representation" (1990, 211). Third space is "that productive space of the
construction of culture as difference, in the spirit of alterity or
otherness" (1990, 209). Pile (1994) builds from Bhabha to imagine third
space as an epistemological terrain for interrogating those foundational
dualisms which he thinks

underpin the social constitution and policing of rigidly bounded cultural
identities (e.g. man/woman, rational/irrational, white/non-white). Still
understanding third space in a largely, although not entirely, metaphorical
sense, Pile suggests that this space is "continually fragmented, fractured,
incomplete, uncertain, and the site of struggles for meaning and
representation" (1994, 273). He uses the concept heuristically to illuminate
the "grounds of dissimilarity" on which dualisms are constructed, and to
demonstrate that there are spaces beyond dualisms (Pile 1994, 273; see also
Law 1997, 109). The third

space is thus "a location for knowledge" (Law 1997, 109), which identifies
the "social construction of dualisms as part of the problem" by "recognising
places beyond the grounds of dissimilarity... collectively named the third
space" (Pile 1994, 264; see also Law 1997, 109). So, third spaces are places
beyond the grounds of dissimilarity; places where dualisms are elaborated
and broken down.


My objective in Shimshal is to describe actual third spaces, the
characteristics of which allow fixed identities - of spaces or human
subjects - based on normalizing dualisms, to be challenged. And I want to
assert boldly what remains largely implied in Pile and Bhabha: that the
deliberate construction of third spaces is a strategy particularly amenable
to the circumstances of the radically disempowered - those condemned by
their location in a field of power to struggle, not to win definitively, but
simply to fight another day. If the third space is a space of "ambivalence
and not fixity of the construction of identity," continually "fragmented,
fractured, incomplete, uncertain" (Law 1997, 110 & 109), then it is also
perhaps a space commensurate with what Foucault would call agonism, and
which he describes as a lifestyle of continuous and opportunistic
resistance, focused on chances to exploit the ambiguities of power, to
disrupt dualisms, to "pursue games of power ... played with a minimum of
domination" (Simons 1995, 86). This suggests that the characteristics of
actual third spaces may be most amenable to what we might term off-kilter,
rather than directly oppositional, forms of resistance: those which are
directed at an angle to specific exercises of power (see Butz & Ripmeester
1999). The ambiguous nature of third spaces may allow resistance to
construct or utilise discursive terrain beyond dualisms. At the same time,
however, I think a third space sensibility can allow the radically
disempowered discursively to reconstruct actual spaces in ways that allow
them to engage more productively in directly oppositional resistance.



From: IRAJ IMAM []
Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 4:08 PM
Subject: real and virtual worlds: third space


" Would it be fair to characterize Lefebvre's "first space" as psychical
space ("meat space" :-) while "second space" as symbolic space ("virtual


one can use any terminology one want. The point is recognizing that we -our
bodies and our societies--always exist in space and as space. and spaces
exists simultaneously both as real physical space (first space or your meat
space) and as imagined and imaginary space (second space or your virtual
space). one good example for me is Francis Bacon who paints portraits of
both spaces of people-their real shape and their imagined shape. That
applies to all portraits though, like all physical spaces, they are also
representations of space, even if, like paintings, they are spaces of
representations themselves. Bacon's images at Google:


so what is in it for us? One consequence is that we will no longer limit
ourselves to focus on only one type of space-physical or virtual. More
importantly, we will get used to 'see' them being interconnected; in our
bodies/mind and in our societies.


"I still struggle to understand Lefebvre's "third space" or "lived space".
It sounds in opposition to the "first space" but I do not understand how. Is
the "first space" abstract (alienated? mediated?) physical space out there
while the "third space" is (directly experienced) habitat? Even more, I do
not understand what problem Lefebvre tried to solve when he develop this
space terminology."


First space is the concrete physical things and second space is the first
one mediated by us-conceived by us, therefore it is imagined, imaginary, and
virtual; but not unreal. Third space, as you suggested, is directly
experienced. It means different things to different people. But there is an
overall parallel in use of it by post-colonial authors like Spivak, Bha Bha,
and Said, by spatial theorists like Lefebvre and Soja, and by CHAT authors
Gutierrez and Leander (zone of proximal development). Because it involves
action by individuals and groups it is seen as transformative,
transgressive, and change-inducing; for better or for worse. In a similar
way that our activities are always mediated, so does space and our 'spatial
activity.' I can not think of any activity that is not spatial-physical or
virtual. So we can say now: all activities not only are mediated by tools
--physical and virtual, they are also mediated by space and in space. in
addition, all activities are space producing---they produce new space.


That is the problem Lefebvre wanted to solve: why space-physical and
virtual-is important now and how it is produced, and hence can be changed,
including our bodies, identities, and our societies. His book on space is
called 'production of space'. one of his argument is that 'social relations
of production have a social existence to the extent that they have spatial
existence.; they project themselves into the space, becoming inscribed
there, and in the process producing that space itself. Failing this, these
relations would remain in the realm of 'pure' abstraction.'


Here are a few examples of Third space as:


 resistance by villagers, using post-colonial approach:
/butz.pdf+%22third+space%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8> &hl=en&ie=UTF-8


an inclusionary and multifaceted identity politics:
S/paul/hybridity.pdf+%22third+space%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8> &hl=en&ie=UTF-8



Cheers for the New (and a better) Year to all!



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