Thirdspace is a concept which is brought forward by Edward Soja in his book ‘Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places’ which came out in 1996. To understand Soja’s concept of thirdspace, we first must refer to Lefebvre’s ‘triad of space’, which consists of three different concepts of space (Lefebvre, 1991, p. 33). The first is ‘spatial practice’, which is also known as ‘perceived space’. This is the physical space around us, which creates the material conditions for our society. The second is ‘representations of space’, which is also known as ‘conceived space’. This is space as we would describe it theoretically and in an objective way. The third is ‘representational spaces’, which is also known as ‘lived space’. This is the space where social relations take place and where we actively experience it in everyday life (H. Ernste, personal communication, 21 september 2010).
This is where Soja and his concept of Thirdspace come in. Soja defines Thirdspace as follows:
‘A knowable and unknowable, real and imagined lifeworld of experiences, emotional events, and political choices that is existentially shaped by the generative and problematic interplay between centers and peripheries, the abstract and concrete, the impassioned spaces of the conceptual and the lived, marked out materially and metaphorically in spatial praxis, the transformation of (spatial) knowledge into (spatial) action in the field of unevenly developed (spatial) power.’ (Soja, 1996, p. 31)
So Thirdspace is not exactly the same as the third concept of space of Lefebvre (the lived space), although it’s space that’s ‘not defined just lived’ (H. Ernste, personal communication, 21 september 2010). Thirdspace is also a combination of all of these spaces. It’s a space which is trying to get beyond discourses, it’s a space where creativity takes place and it’s a space which is open to othering (H. Ernste, personal communication, 21 september 2010). Soja even compares Thirdspace to the Aleph, which is ‘te place where all places are’ (Soja, 1996, p. 54) Soja also clarifies that when he says:
‘Thirdspace, as I have been defining it, retains the multiple meanings Lefebvre persistently ascribed to social space. It is both a space that is distinguishable from other spaces (physical and mental, or Firstspace and Second space) and a transcending composite of all spaces (Thirdspace as Aleph).’ (Soja, 1996, p. 62)
Thirdspace is an alternative postmodern geography and the thirding-as-othering was designed to make this alternative possible and to breakdown the dichotomy.
Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space: Plan of the Present Work. Blackwell Publishing: Oxford.
Soja, E.W. (1996). Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places. Blackwell Publishing: Oxford.