The Pacific Asian Financial Crisis, Indonesian Forests, and "Us": Synthesizing a Multi-Perspective Application of Massey's Space

This article addresses an issue that is both a problem for society and an opportunity for geography. Increased by globalization, spatial distance and social complexity often obscure interconnections between citizens of the first world and distant and different peoples and places. While geography's spatial perspective and multiple subdisciplines offer tools that can clarify such interrelationships, our analytic perspectives do not explicitly direct researchers to do so. That the public desires such geographies is evident in the popular success of works by nongeographers, many of whom have served as keynote speakers at recent AAG meetings. This paper elaborates the relational ontology developed by Doreen Massey as a framework for combining several analytic perspectives in order to produce a narrative that explicitly identifies interrelationships between us/here/now with them/there/when. Specifically the paper draws from political ecology and economy, commodity chain analysis, cultural economy, and economic geography perspectives. The research project itself is aimed at producing a narrative that traces the interrelationships between "us," the 1997 Thai financial collapse, the resulting wider Pacific Asian crisis, and its expression in Indonesia's forests. As the paper illustrates, through synthesis the analytic perspectives already in use by geographers can be used to clarify the intimacy and dialectic quality of relations across distance. The paper suggest that while finely focused geographic research is vital, in some instances a breadth of approach also is appropriate and useful.