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Third Space


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A creative space that lies between the discourse or position of the ruling subject and the discourse or position of the subaltern subject. This, according to the term's originator Homi Bhabha, is inscribed within the communicative situation itself. He explains that this never self-sufficient because there is always a gap between the statement and its expression (this formulation draws on a variety of post-structuralist accounts of language, but principally that of Jacques Derrida and his concept of différance). The ‘I’ who speaks and the ‘I’ who is spoken about never coincide. Once we understand this, Bhabha argues, we cannot but realize that all claims concerning the purity or originality of cultures are untenable by definition. Urban geographer, Edward Soja has adopted this term as a means of articulating the problematic space of contemporary Los Angeles, which, as his researches make plain, is neither as fully American nor as fully First World as its boosters make it out to be, because of the huge number of migrants living there as well as the presence of sweatshops in the inner city. Soja takes it a step further and considers the gap between Los Angeles as the producer of cinematic representations and its representation in images, arguing that the fantasy images of film feed into the way in which the city sees itself and lives are lived there. Third Space has become an important term in Postcolonial Studies for thinking about geographical hybridity.

Further Reading:

H. Bhabha The Location of Culture (1994).M. Doel Poststructuralist Geographies (1999).E. Soja Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-And-Imagined Places (1996).


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