Geographies of Touch/Touched by Geography

Elizabeth R. Straughan, Deborah P. Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (SciVal)


Considerable attention within geography has been paid to the physiologies, knowledges and practices that give substance and import to the senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch – and the manner in which these work alone, or in concert, to facilitate particular forms of relations between and amongst people, other life forms and objects. This article takes stock of the manner in which touch has entered into these debates and in particular of recent efforts to place touch, touching and being touched within non-essentialist, human geographic analyses. In doing so it draws attention, first, to studies that have used ‘non’ or ‘more than’ representational theory to emphasise the role of pathic, or precognitive, experiences of place in the production of proximal forms of knowledge and second, to work that explores the inter-play between the ‘interior’ psychologies of intimacy and indifference, acceptance and alienation (i.e. feelings of being in/losing/being out of touch) and the ‘exterior,’ corporeal work of texture and friction, push and feel. We conclude by calling for more critical attention to the work of touch in constructing scaled geographies and the recognition of legal and jurisdictional geographies in determining where, when and how touching takes place, the designation of touching as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and the imposition of penalties in response to touch.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-459
Number of pages11
JournalGeography Compass
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2010


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