ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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​A Space for the Space Theorist

Remembering Henri Lefebvre

Despite being somewhat ignored in Indian academia, Henri Lefebvre comes to our rescue every time, helping us understand and respond to space–time challenges.

At a time when movement and distancing have become a critique of everyday life because of a microorganism ruling over our lives, the spaces that we once shared and the talks that we once talked have all started changing daily life and the production of spaces over time. COVID-19 has, in fact, driven us into a time when the new space of connectedness is technology. It is in this context that I am reminded of the famous French Marxist Henri Lefebvre, who was born in 1902. Had Lefebvre been alive today, he would probably have been the first to correct us with respect to our usage of the term “social distancing.” The pandemic has dragged our society towards a different “living actuality,” with new words gaining meaning and capacity; a living actuality that is bereft of praxis. The actual contents of life must call out for a transformation wherein our very social practice is perfected through a conscious, coherent, and free means of socially responsible thinking—a thinking generated wherein knowledge and creativity cannot be separated.

Parallelly, most spaces that were earlier social in real and physical/tangible terms have begun to be looked at as synonymous with spaces that have been reproduced through the means of technology. Technological spaces are not physical or tangible, neither are they real in terms of “touch” (understood as an emotional transfer of a social relationship). The space generated, thus, is a space that is intangible—a space that is not social in its making and also in its upbringing. A kindergarten student cannot be limited to a space of a cuboid, wherein their eyes are fixed to a screen. They are meant to be wandering, and it is this very wandering that creates the space for inculcating a thirst for knowledge. If they believe that this is how a classroom looks like, it is probably at that precise point that the formal education system of a society in itself suffers a breakdown—a breakdown in its complete structural sense which is irreparable. Therefore, maybe at times it is better to not learn rather than learn with deviant backlashes. This is where I see the interventions of Lefebvre extremely important.

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Updated On : 28th Dec, 2020
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