Racialization and Racism

Re-encountering Lefebvre: Toward a critical phenomenology of social space

In this article, I present a critical phenomenological reworking of Lefebvre’s theory of social space from the perspective of minority subjects. To do so, I identify phenomenological themes present in The Production of Space, reading it alongside Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. This reading emphasizes Lefebvre and Merleau-Ponty’s shared critiques of space, their relational ontologies, and their emphasis on bodily practice. With these shared concerns in view, I then extend this phenomenological reading of Production by bringing it into conversation with scholarship in critical phenomenology. Critical phenomenology has developed largely out of the work of Merleau-Ponty and seeks to revise classical phenomenological accounts to attend to issues of race, gender, sexuality, disability, and other categories of social difference. I demonstrate how critical phenomenology can be brought to bear on Lefebvre’s account of social space and the subject, considering how it can concretize and actualize the political potential Lefebvre attaches to differential embodiment in Production. Bringing these perspectives to bear on Lefebvre’s conception, I argue, does important work to actualize his vision of differential embodiment as a political and spatial practice.


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Volume 38 Issue 1