2: Spatial History Lab
Just as the current spatial turn may have emerged from radical spatial changes in how we think about space today, spatial history seeks to understand how space has been constructed and has influenced historical developments in different times and places.
That is part of what the Stanford Spatial History Lab has sought to understand. Founded by Richard White and Zephyr Frank, and currently directed by Kathy Harris, the Lab has supported a number of projects that examine history in a spatial context.
In the article “What is Spatial History,” Richard White argues that narrative history has “left historians open to the charge from geographers that they write history as if it took place on the head of a pin. The charge is not true, but sometimes it is uncomfortably close to being true.”
As White notes, the French philosopher Henri LeFebvre has contributed greatly to the concept of historical spatial analysis. In The Production of Space, LeFebvre put forth a definition of space that is less rigid and more constructed than often conceived, arguing that our conceptions of space have changed with time. LeFebvre identified three major forms of space: spatial practice, representations of space, and representational space. White’s more detailed discussion, explanation and analysis of LeFebvre can be found here.