Gill Valentine’s book Social Geographies: Space and Society is an insightful book. The author tackles a lofty subject as she seeks to examine how human relationships take shape and the elements that influence such a process. About her book, Valentine notes:
Social geography is an inherently ambiguous and eclectic field of research and writing. It is perhaps best summed up as ‘the study of social relations and the spatial structures that underpin those relations… Although this book is entitled Social Geographies, it makes no claims to occupy a discrete intellectual space which can be identified or sealed off from other traditional subdisciplinary areas such as cultural geography or political geography. Rather, the plural social geographies which emerge here are porous product-an expression of the many connections and interrelationships that exist between different fields of geographical inquiry. Indeed, they are perhaps more appropriately characterized by the subtitle: space and society.
Reading Social geography comes at a time when I am interested in the ongoing immigration debate in the United States. Globally, the number of refugees and immigrants is increasing due to wars, droughts, terrorism, economic hardships and search for opportunity. As an immigrant, I have vested desire to know how the current immigration regulations continue to impact and shape the space of both immigrant individuals and families. I have always been curious about the role of geographers play in the formation of immigration and citizenship policy. Perhaps, political geography doesn’t necessarily warrant geographers as was with the arbitrary demarcation of most of the boarders of nations in Africa by the colonial governments.
I know that there are a number of opinions on both sides of the immigration debate which I’ll not be able to discuss in this post, however I have always wondered about the loss of space and how it might affect the lives of immigrants. The search for space and belonging for immigrants is telling when for some of the undocumented immigrants the only path is through recruitment into the US military. But aren’t immigrants looking to recovery a sense of place, space, home and opportunity instead of a battlefield? About home, place and space Gill writes, “It is somewhere we feel we belong, and to which we return. Indeed, the home often becomes a symbol of the self.”
Perhaps the positives might outweigh the negatives, yet even for the immigrants for whom joining the US military might have been a considerable option, they were dealt a political blow this week when “immigration hardliners prevailed in fight over Dreamers and the military.” So where is home for the Dreamers and what does space look like for them? What does sustainability meaning for the Dreamers? As the Dreamers where bluntly reminded by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) who said, “each time an illegal alien takes an enlistment opportunity, an American or lawful immigrant loses an enlistment opportunity,” Brooks wrote. “The ratio is one-to-one. Period. That is the math.” So where do they go from here? For now theirs is rejection and more confusion about space, opportunity and geography.
Here I am reminded of Mark C. Taylor who might be a source of inspirational escape since he does a masterful job in recounting a touching love affair not with a person but with a place that, paradoxically, cannot be easily localized in his book Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill (Religion, Culture, and Public Life). I recommend his book as a good read. Mark also provides striking insights about the underlying issues that also impact place and space for anyone in the twenty first century. Taylor writes:
The problems facing us at the beginning of the twenty-first century are surprisingly similar to those of the early nineteenth century. As industrial capitalism has given way to financial capitalism, personal, social, political, and economic fragmentation has spread and deepened. Technologies that were supposed to connect and integrate are creating divisions within and among individuals and are deepening the opposition between humanity and the natural world. Globalization leads to a hyper-competitive environment in which any sense of the whole-be it personal, social, or natural-is lost. At this critical moment, perhaps change can come from refiguring for our time and place the insights of past writers, poets, artists, philosophers, and theologians. If this effort is to be effective, it cannot remain disinterested, analytical and critical but must be committed to developing creative and constructive strategies for dealing with our most urgent problems. We need new maps to help us navigate territories that will become even more perilous in the future. This work is intended to create the possibility of being different by seeing otherwise. Any thoughts?
 Gill Valentine, Social Geographies: Space & Society, (Harlow, England: Pearson Education Ltd, 2001), 1.
 Ibid., 73.
 Mark, C Taylor. Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill. (New York: New York, Columbia University Press, 2014), 4.