Flirting with Space, the Question of Space and Beyond: An interview between Professor David Crouch and Harriet Parry
David Crouch is Professor Emeritus in Cultural Geography and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Derby, UK. David’s vital and inquisitive praxis attends to the creative nature of human and non-human relations in and with space, an approach also illustrated through his work as a practicing artist. His most recent research monograph Flirting with Space (Crouch 2010) exemplifies the rich rewards for such attention to the complexity, simplicity, playfulness and possibility that occurs through the practice of everyday living. Amongst his many contributions working to open up space for innovation in his field, David recently co-edited a publication entitled The Question of Space (Crouch and Nieuwenhuis Eds. 2017) with political geographer Dr Marijn Nieuwenhuis then Warwick University, now Durham. The text draws together a diverse group of authors writing across boundaries and territorialities that demonstrate the liveliness and ongoing value of playing with the concept of space, an approach that we have endeavoured to reflect in this special issue of Networking Knowledge Mediating Place.
The interview was conducted as a written email exchange over the summer and into the autumn of 2020, when universities started gearing up for a new scholarly year and the ongoing impact of the pandemic on academic research still remained unclear. As a PhD researcher about to embark on my third year at the University of Brighton, my fieldwork had been suspended and walking tours with participants around the heritage sites that were my case-studies seemed like a memory of an alternate reality. Although it was frustrating to have to take a step back from the physical and embodied experience of these sites, it also created a space to think about what it really means to be, through my contrasting disconnection from the animate and inanimate materiality of my social environment.
The emails between David and I therefore became a generative space for me to think through the physical sense of detachment from ‘reality’ imposed by lockdown. Our conversation was contextualised by the mass media broadcasting rolling images of restriction and protest, those yearning for space and escape and the critical inequality that defines the varied everyday experiences of bodies in a global pandemic. The conceptual space created gave us the opportunity to stop, think and reflect, generating a certain cadence of communication between us. In the same way that two beings can find a rhythm when travelling side-by-side, so I found myself falling into the rhythm of David’s rich and impressionistic forms of thinking and writing.
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