Doel M A, 2001, "1a. Qualified quantitative geography" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 19(5) 555 – 572
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1a. Qualified quantitative geography
Marcus A Doel
Received 11 January 2000; in revised form 24 November 2000
Abstract. The rapprochement of humanism and structuralism on the one hand, and quantitative and qualitative approaches on the other hand, has not addressed an implacable difficulty which continues to haunt both spatial science and 'critical' human geographies. That difficulty concerns the ontological and ethical status of numbers, and their relationship to concepts, events, and sensations. The paper engages with this difficulty through a combination of theoretical and literary writings, most notably Woody Allen's film Deconstructing Harry, Samuel Beckett's play Not I, and Derrida's work of Dissemination. Insofar as 'one' lacks consistency -- by disavowing difference, alterity, and innumerable numbers -- its deployment is invariably unbecoming, repressive, and ill-mannered. The ethical response is to divine 'another way of working with numbers', as Derrida once intimated; to prevent some ones from taking hold. The outcome is a form of poststructuralist geography that takes flight from all kinds of pointillism. After an opening scene that lays out the general setup of quantification and its qualification, the first section of the paper employs the notion of a soft ontology in order to prepare the way for 'another way of working with numbers' that is occasioned by a sensitivity towards the ontological buzzing and solicitation that accompanies processes of subjectification, objectification, identification, and enumeration. The paper concludes with an affirmation of a 'disturbing geography' that leaves everything in perpetual suspense.
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