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The key issue of the project "Pidzamche: places and spaces" can be formulated as follows: what does the district of Pidzamche consist of? Obviously, this issue can be approached in different ways and at different levels, depending on the research subject. The analysis can focus on specific objects, buildings, and streets forming the fabric of the area, as well as on specific people who live there and form physical space around themselves. The whole visual landscape of the district, as it is seen, for example, from the top of the Vysokyi Zamok, can be such a subject. Then it would be necessary to study personal values, important for the observer, and relevant social contexts, as well as political, social, or moral ideologies which are imposed on the visual image of the urban landscape giving it a special meaning. In the case of this project, the research subject is located approximately midway between these examples. It is defined by the concept of "social space" and covers both material objects or people and discursive contexts or personal values. In this case, however, they are considered not independently but as elements of a conventional material and discursive whole, represented by the existence of specific environments. At a geographical location, there can be several "spaces-and-environments" of this kind, and they can change over time. Thus, in a more specific formulation, the project "Pidzamche: places and spaces" is an attempt to answer the following question: what "social spaces" does the district of Pidzamche consist of?

The basis for this research is a point about a possibility to consider a space as a social product formed by political, cultural, social, and other factors, which places the project in a broader context of "new" cultural geography (A Companion to Cultural Geography, 2007; Cultural geography: Critical Concepts, 2004; Cultural Geography in Practice, 2003; Baker, 1992, 1-14; Pred, 1990). However, in terms of methodology, the research is based solely on theoretical works of Henri Lefebvre. Actually, it is Lefebvre's ideas that set the agenda of cultural geography and in many ways defined the peculiarities of its approaches. The French scholar is also an important figure in a wider "spatial debate," which, beginning from the late twentieth century, touched upon a lot of humanities. Lefebvre's works influenced many prominent urbanist researchers[1], and his points about social aspects of space are seen today as a "common place" which does not need any special proof. Nowadays, however, a certain revisionist trend can be observed among those who study the theory of Henri Lefebvre, a desire to return to the source and to rethink the established interpretation of the French thinker's ideas. According to this trend supporters[2] (known as the "third wave" of attention to Lefebvre), his theory has not been adequately understood as its use by other scholars was limited to taking some points out for their "personal needs," while broader theoretical postulates were left without proper analysis (Space, Difference, Everyday Life, 2008). Thus, without attention to the "native context," Lefebvre's findings were considered in an "impoverished" interpretation[3], which was not always correct. This situation, according to representatives of the "third wave", requires a new, more careful reading of the "father's of the social space concept" works and suggesting new interpretations.

This project does not involve a deep analysis of the theory of Henri Lefebvre. However, the "revisionists'" position inspires one at least to address the "source" because it allows avoiding political economy, postmodern or "space-centric" interpretations of Lefebvre's ideas which are not consistent with the approach chosen by the project author. After all, we are speaking primarily about defining a conventional historical "space," inserted in Pidzamche's environment for a certain period of time. Moreover, according to the "spirit" of Lefebvre's works, various elements making these "spaces" — economic, subjective, ideological, financial, social ones – are treated as equivalent among themselves. The same is true for the dimensions of time and space: when analyzing the dynamic, specific, variable formation of the district's "face," not a certain spatial or temporal parameter is accentuated, but both at once, as the project concerns the district's space in the historical time perspective.

According to Lefebvre, visible buildings and geographical landscapes are just the top of the spatial iceberg.  For humans, material reality does not exist independently. The concept of space has to include a vision of a broader human environment. Time and space have no universal existence apart from the man. They are constituted by the man under certain psychosomatic mechanisms and, therefore, depend on human perception and on its social and material contexts. Therefore, the understanding of a spatial environment requires an analysis of various factors. This concerns also people who live there; their language; social roles performed by them; a variety of everyday practices and, in general, all activities placed in a specific spatial context. However, these are not all the moments making up our human space. Lefebvre adds also discursive and symbolic-semantic phenomena. All these factors are grouped by the French scholar into three principal formants or moments of the human space creation: 1) spatial practices or perceived space (material objects and all practices inserted in space); 2) space representations or conceived space (discursive patterns and conceptual generalizations of space); 3) represented or lived space (direct emotional and symbolic experience of perception, subjective meanings). These three formants or aspects of space are considered in dynamic and variable interconnection[4].

The implementation of the project "Pidzamche: Places and Spaces" is based on three main theoretical postulates, suggested by Henri Lefebvre (Lefebvre, 1991): 1) space is a social product and, at the same time, an important element of social reality, a concrete space corresponds to a specific social reality; 2) the process of producing social space can be considered at three levels: the level of material things and practices; the level of established codes, ideas, and knowledge; the level of living everyday feeling / symbolic space; 3) social space is "dialectical"[5], that is, open, uncertain, variable, dynamic, contradictory, uncomplished.

In his book "The Production of Space," Lefebvre dedicates a lot of pages to analyzing specific historical spaces. To be more precise, he tries to propose a general typology of spaces produced by humanity during its existence. The scholar assumes as the basis of these generalizations the contrast between different types of human relationships — "organic," "local" and "abstract," "global." Accordingly, in history of social spaces, Lefebvre sees a movement from more natural, "organic" relationships, limited by a common residence and determined by such basic parameters as gender, age, kinship, to more formal "abstract," political and institutional ones. Lefebvre links the creation of abstract space with the advent of modern society and, especially, with capitalist production. However, the scholar believes that the struggle of "organic" and "abstract" spaces cannot lead to an unequivocal result, because any social reality contains fundamental contradictions, and this concerns any space. Therefore, according to Lefebvre, the next type of space (and the relevant type of sociality) should be differential space, where contradictions will be seen and manifested as differences, that is, will not bear a negative antagonistic meaning.

At the district of Pidzamche's micro level, such a macro scale schematization of historical spaces would certainly have no special meaning. In our case, we are speaking not about "universal" spaces in history of humanity, but about the spaces of a particular district, aiming not at incorporating its situation in the global and historical context pattern [6], but at the delineation of locally important events. In other words, the researcher's "look-at-Pidzamche" is fundamentally determined by a "look-from-Pidzamche" and a relevant scale. However, certain theoretical and methodological principles and considerations, used by Lefebvre in his macro scheme, can be transferred onto the soil of Pidzamche. This research is an attempt to produce its own research field, fundamentally correlated, however, with the French scholar's approach. Thus, Lefebvre's key point is accepted, i.e. "every mode of production has its own special space, the transition from one mode to another entails the creation of a new space" (Lefebvre, 1991, 46). A specific periodization of these processes, in the case of Pidzamche, can be determined by specific moments and needs of the project.

In the context of nineteenth-twentieth century East Europe, another point can also be used, that of the contrast between local, "organic" aspects of constituting space and abstract, global ones, when analyzing the introduction of modern ideas and practices as opposed to previous, more traditional ones in Pidzamche. Here, it is important to remember "the principle of keeping the previous" formulated by Lefebvre: "[in] space, what came earlier continues to support what follows. The prerequisites of a social space have an inherent ability to persist and remain relevant in this space" (Lefebvre, 1991, 229). The "dialectical nature" of these processes enables a change of individual elements' meaning and character: certain objects, ideas, meanings, symbols can generate "abstract" space in one context and "local historical" one in another. In particular, as Lefebvre often emphasizes, the key points of a previous space tend to remain, at a representative (lived space) level of a new space in the form of meaningful symbols and subjective relevances (Lefebvre, 1991, 49).

Thus, it seems possible to use some key ideas, theoretical directions and some points of specific historical events analysis, suggested by Lefebvre in his work "The Production of Space," in the study of the peculiarities of the material and ideological and symbolic environment of Pidzamche. The main methodological problem here is to accurately formulate the subject of our research. Lefebvre ties the phenomenon of space to the mode of production, characteristic of certain societies, noting that "each mode of production can involve meaningful variation forms" (Lefebvre, 1991, 31). Accordingly, in the case of this particular study of a specific district, we can speak about some conditional subspaces tied to significant (locally) variations of modes of production, more global in the spatial and temporal scale. A clear delineation of these subspaces depends on the chosen periodization of significant local forms of the socio-political formations which influenced the district's life in any period, interesting for our project. Proceeding from the factor of a "narrow" local significance, the project focuses not only on subvariants of the mode of production representing the general trend (i.e. capitalist or socialist), but also on local alternatives, which can, within a particular place, claim an important role and effectiveness. This refers, for example, to the  coexistence of "pure" capitalist forms of production (and everything connected with this fact) and previous ones, such as smuggling or small craft, as it was actually in Pidzamche that the latter retained their significance for a long time. Thus, throughout Pidzamche, they are singled out in separate subtypes of production modes, though, on a broader scale, some of them represent a model of sociality, typical of that age, while others are only remnants and traces of something already irrelevant. Also, from a global perspective, some of these subtypes can fit into different levels (formants) of social space: capitalist forms can affect more as ideas and discourse phenomena, while craftmanship can have influence as material spatial practices. Within this project, this level of analysis will not be used, though any further research in this direction and with the use of this approach will require it. However, even at the local level of the district, these subtypes are not completely equivalent, since belonging to a "progressive" or to a "backward" mode of production is significant. Therefore, for their conceptual separation, Lefebvre's narrative of the contrast between "more organic" and "more abstract" can be used, which also fits into the generally accepted picture of the struggle of the "modern" and the "traditional", typical of the nineteenth-twentieth centuries.

Also, not only factors of material and economic nature are taken into account. This research makes no attempt to define "classic" Lefebvre's social spaces representing individual social realities. Therefore, here the division into subspaces is not determined by a wider division into global, "massive" types of production modes, where we would have three principal horizons — early modern, capitalist, and socialist. The level of a single district urges us to choose a different classification which would better convey local relevances. According to the author of the project, the key to enter the research's local level is special attention to specific semantic and narrative meanings, where some micro differences are hidden, invisible from a more "global" perspective, which originates primarily from difference of forms. Thus, we can formulate a modified, "reduced" understanding of Lefebvre's spatial triad applied to the study of local "spaces". Distinguishing three basic elements — material objects / practices, discursive patterns / cognitive concepts, symbolic images / personal values —​ Lefebvre emphasizes their "dialectical" correlation. One of them, however, — material objects / practices —  is still more decisive for him, more "productive of spaces", because it allows a more clear distinction between social formations. The mode of production is a fundamental factor which defines the specific framework of social practices. Nevertheless, going down to the level of one dominant mode of production, we lose the ability to make clear local distinctions, which are not important on a larger scale. If we reduce the scale and still want to find some differences, we have to use other footholds.

An appropriate methodological hypothesis, used in this project, reads as follows: within a territory included in a certain global mode of production, individual social subspaces can also be distinguished, but, with this in view, the priority should be given to different forming elements of Lefebvre's triad. Thus, we can obtain important differences where they are not visible from the perspective of one mode of production. In Pidzamche, for example, a specific residential townhouse, built by a Jewish industrialist, can be an excellent model of capitalist practices, but it also can be a symbol of the district's Jewish nature and have important subjective interpretations inserting it into the context of traditional Jewish Pidzamche. Or else, craftsmen's practices which acquire an entirely different meaning in the context of capitalist or socialist narratives. For our project, such differences can create completely different subspaces, significant in a local perspective. Therefore, in this study specific subspaces are defined by specific semantic, narrative or material points, important in each specific case. That is, different semantic, narrative or material points are seen as equivalent among themselves in their "space productive" function if they unite around themselves the other two complementary elements of the spatial triad.

Thus, based on these conceptual and methodological foundations, the project "Pidzamche: places and spaces" describes and records, through appropriate studies, different (social) subspaces (and ties and relations between them), significant in the territory of the district from the mid-nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. The subspaces (hereinafter, for convenience, referred to simply as spaces) are divided into two groups — "traditional" and "modern." The former include the following spaces: 1) the space of Jewish traditionality, 2) the space of craftsmanship, 3) the space of traditional commercial practices, 4) the space of multiculturalism. The latter include: 1) the space of a modern capitalist metropolis, 2) the space of ​a​modern nation state, 3) the space of a Soviet modern state. Separately, some examples of the most significant cases of "hybridization" ("Jewish capitalism," "socialist smuggling") and "antagonism" (the antagonism of "Jewishness" and the modern state, "Sovietness" and traditional trade) of various spaces, as well as specific representative cases and examples (using objects or certain situations) are considered.

It certainly should be emphasized that the comparison of these spaces at the level of one research field is conditional and is constructed specifically for this research due to their local importance in the area of Pidzamche.

The specific form and content of the study are determined by the peculiarities of a wider project "Lviv Interactive," whose base is used. The analysis results are presented in the form of several interactive maps with marked objects and accompanying texts. The content of the research consists in defining significant spaces of Pidzamche, revealing the dynamics of their development, mutual relations and influences,  correlating  them with the specific objects and areas on the map of the district.


The Thematic Scheme of the Project:

Pidzamche as an intersection of spaces (1869-1989)


1. The space of Jewish traditionalism
2. The space of craftsmanship
3. The space of traditional commercial practices
4. The space of multiculturalism


1. The space of a modern capitalist metropolis
2. The space of a modern nation state
3. The space of a Soviet modern state


1. "Jewish modernity"
2. "Jewish capitalism"
3. Modern state vs. "Jewishness"
4. Socialism vs. trade
5. "Socialist smuggling"


1. A Companion to Cultural Geography (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007).
2. Baker Alan and Biger G., eds, Ideology and landscape in historical perspective: essays on the meanings of some places in the past (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 1-14.
3. Cultural Geography in Practice (Routledge, 2003).
4. Cultural Geography: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences (Routledge, 2004).
5. Lefebvre Henri, The Production of Space (Blackwell Publishing, 1991).
6. Pred Allan, Making histories and constructing human geographies: the local transformation of practice, power relations, and consciousness (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990).
7. Space, difference, everyday life: reading Henri Lefebvre (Routledge, 2008).

Written by Andriy Bondarenko

[1] The most influential branches of Lefebvre's theory include that of David Harvey, who tried to develop the ideas of the French thinker in the context of his political economic vision of urban processes, and that of Edward Soja, who used them as the base for his post modernist "ontology of space," examining new cultural politics of identity and differences.

[2] Stuart Elden, Rob Shields, Andy Merrifield, Kristin Ross, Neil Brenner, Walter Prigge, Christian Schmid.

[3] In particular, the scope of the very perception of Lefebvre's ideas is made problematic as attention is drawn to the fact that, though today the researcher is, as a rule, considered to be the key figure of the "spatial turn" in the humanities, he never highlighted in his writings the concept of space in the conjunction of "space-time," as can be concluded judging by his modern interpretations.

[4] Lefebvre calls their mutual relationship dialectical.

[5] This Lefebvre's term is used in this study in a conventional sense, abstracted from specific connotations in the theory of Lefebvre, where the concept of dialectics conveys his fundamental views on social reality.

[6] Although such a probable study of, for example, the industrialization of Pidzamche in the context of the development of a new order of "abstract space," according to Lefebvre, would be certainly very interesting.