Reflection: Ch 4 – Body, Personal Relations, and Spatial Values by Yi Fu Tuan

After reading this particular chapter, I have a deeper understanding on the perceptions of space and how it has evolved from an unknown concept to something that contains multiple meanings and perceptions.

It was interesting to find out the initial perception of personal space through the human body, and his understandings of directions and subsequently the labelled meanings of different directions. It was mentioned in the reading that humans used the perception of their body’s direction of space to define what was front, back, left and right, and this allowed humans to redefine the space of the world, to dedicate the directions of roads, buildings, and even to design recreational spaces such as parks.

Not only did the humans’ perception of space help them define the physical space around them, but it also allowed them to perceive the emotional space between people. And this gave rise to multiple meanings in speech, to define physical space and emotional space differently. In addition, each person’s perception of the meaning is different as well (in the emotional sense). The book used the example of the statement: “we’re good friends”, as the definition can be physically close or emotionally close. Other terms can also be “we’re going out” – it could mean going outside physically or they are dating.

Author: Amanda Lee

Sometimes what you are most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free

4 thoughts on “Reflection: Ch 4 – Body, Personal Relations, and Spatial Values by Yi Fu Tuan”

  1. I like your summary about transitioning from “physical space” to observing/communicating “emotional space” between people and how language can be used to describe this space.  Considering that our sense of emotional space has had to shift during the pandemic, what have you found or observed has changed in the way people understand “emotional space”?

    1. I think the whole concept of emotional space has become such an important topic during this time of crisis, especially with the work from home scheme. Families and couples now stay at home for 24 hours, and see each other more times in a day than when they go out physically from work. This somewhat affects their “personal space”, which correlates with “emotional space”. I realised that some of my friends, who used to stay in hall more during the semester, had a hard time adapting to their family routines when they had to shift back home for circuit breaker. Having many people evade your ‘personal space’ many times in a day makes one ’emotional space’ become smaller, and sometimes even fights happen.

      In a more positive perspective, people have also begun to understand the capacity of each person’s ’emotional space’, as they themselves have felt the impact on their own ’emotional space’ due to long hours of staying at home. This leads to better understandings between people and slightly less conflicts when people type messages such as: ‘i’m tired’ or ‘i’m sorry, I can’t meet you right now’

      In such trying times, people are impacted physically (uncomfort of new norms) and emotionally (the tiredness of working from home – the inability to distinguish a workspace and homespace), but it definitely showed a silver lining in terms of how people react to other people, and also the tone of communication.

    2. I personally feel that the concept of not being able to distinguish between a ‘workspace’ and a ‘homespace’ due to the circuit breaker is very interesting and it may be a good topic to explore

  2. I think the blurring boundary between ‘workspace’ and ‘homespace’ could be an interesting topic to explore further too.  What would be necessary conditions be for each to be (in ideal situation) and what has had to happen during circuit breaker? What were the ways in which you (and others) has to adjust, tweak and accommodate this new blurring of spaces? Also to keep in mind that for many of us, having alternative spaces to work and live is a privilege that not everyone has access too (pre-Covid also).  Perhaps this was something that we are all forced to see and experience for the first time especially during the circuit breaker period.  How did this change our attitudes towards these spaces?

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