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Keywords:

  • aesthetics;
  • capitalism;
  • geography;
  • geopolitics;
  • historical materialism;
  • place;
  • social change;
  • social reproduction;
  • social space;
  • social theory;
  • social time

Abstract Although concepts of space and time are socially constructed, they operate with the full force of objective fact and play a key role in processes of social reproduction. Conceptions of space and time are inevitably, therefore, contested as part and parcel of processes of social change, no matter whether that change is superimposed from without (as in imperialist domination) or generated from within (as in the conflict between environmentalist and economic standards of decision making). A study of the historical geography of concepts of space and time suggests that the roots of the social construction of these concepts lie in the mode of production and its characteristic social relations. In particular, the revolutionary qualities of a capitalistic mode of production, marked by strong currents of technological change and rapid economic growth and development, have been associated with powerful revolutions in the social conceptions of space and time. The implications of these revolutions, implying as they do the “annihilation of space by time'’and the general speed-up and acceleration of turnover time of capital, are traced in the fields of culture and politics, aesthetic theory and, finally, brought home within the discipline of geography as both a problem and a stimulus for rethinking the role of the geographical imagination in contemporary social life.