Although diverse, and often divergent, the philosophical tendencies outlined above have a number of important implications for the theoretical, empirical, and political commitments of human geography. First, and perhaps most obviously, they precipitate sustained reflection on the nature of space. To think of space in relation to becoming is to challenge the familiar spatial coordinates of Euclidean geometry. Space is not an unchanging, abstract container within which extensive objects are located and within which activity takes place. Nor is it prior to the positionality of an object. Rather, space, or more accurately, spacing, is better conceived in dynamic terms as a process of folding and refolding productive of what Marcus Doel (1996: 421–439) calls ''scrumpled geography'': a world of ''continuous variation, becoming, and chance, rather than one of constancy, being and predictability.'' To think of space in relation to ideas of becoming – as Doel does with particular energy – is therefore to confront the fact that space is not an ideal form transcending the processual nature of involvement in the world. Space is better conceived as verb rather a noun.

Second, and relatedly, to think of space through the logics of becoming is to problematize the separation of space from time. While this claim might seem obvious, it is potentially contentious in a discipline whose distinct iveness is bound up with understanding of space and spatiality. Such a claim also disturbs the argument that the social sciences need to rediscover space and spatiality, particularly in the wake of the collapse of grand historical narratives. The real question is not to rethink or reequilibrate the relation between space and time, but to think of both as part of the same material semiotic process of becoming. This is not without difficulty. Hence our fondness, as Bergson noted, for spatializing time through certain habits of thinking that locate temporality within particular objects and entities or cut up the world into discrete quanta of representational content. There are however conceptual vehicles through which the temporal intensities of extensity can be made palpable: rhythm is one. In the work of social and spatial theorist Henri Lefebvre rhythm is used to support a way of thinking through and apprehending the dynamic (and for him discontinuous) becoming of space–time.

Third, if becoming precipitates a rethinking of space–time as a kind of rhythmic flux, it also demands a careful reassessment of the space of materiality. More specifically, notions of becoming complicate any attempt to 'ground' the abstractions of theory in a relatively stable world of material entities and objects. Any spatially inflected theory of materiality, if it is not to collapse under the sheer fact of its own self coincidence, must be able to account for the virtuality of durational differentiation outlined by thinkers such as Bergson, Deleuze, and Massumi. This is a crucial question as far as the issue of spatial transformation is concerned. If everything is actual then no possibility exists for transformation – or rather change is only possible in relation to already formed entities. Taking becoming seriously means that the material of space is not that around or through which becoming occurs. Rather, becoming – and its relative speeds and rhythms – is part of what makes the materiality of space matter. In response to this claim geographers are beginning therefore to develop ways of thinking through the transformative materiality of space and about how this transformation is facilitated by a range of technologies and technological practices. Consider, for example, software code. On one level this might be understood as information that flows from one site to another. But the flow of code can also be understood to be part of how space becomes insofar as it provides for new ways of connecting, ordering, and inhabiting worlds. In this sense code is not simple representational: it is also generative of new kinds of space.

Such conceptual agitations of the spatiotemporal and material entanglements of geography by definition have important implications for the very 'doing', or practice, of geography. Not least of these is the fact that the conceptual element of geographical thinking is redefined as a practice caught up in the becoming of the world, and not as something surveying this flux from a position of distanced abstraction. This has important consequences for how basic geographical activities such as fieldwork are understood. Following Deleuze and Guattari, fieldwork can be rethought as a kind of 'becoming minor': a series of modest, performative interventions between the conceptual and the empirical. Such conceptions of fieldwork resonate with recent work within the discipline about how the becoming of space is entangled in questions of performance and performativity. It is also supported by the claims of nonrepresentational styles of work, particularly in the writing of Nigel Thrift, for whom theory is refigured as a conceptually charged set of mobile practices through which to apprehend the movement of an open ended and ontogenetic world.

Informed by such theoretical reorientations we can trace becoming through the geographies of very ordinary practices. Consider, for instance, gardening. While such an activity might be dismissed as politically unimportant, it can also be more generously understood as practice of relational spacing that moves in the ambivalent zone between being and becoming, between the predictability of habit and the unexpectedness of potential for change, however minor. Focusing on such mundane practices also poses an important challenge to the primacy and fixity of the human as a kind of unchanging reference point for geographical thought. In this respect theories and practices of becoming overlap with and supplement efforts to produce cartographies for a more than human world, involving animals, devices, and artefacts of various kinds that have always been hybrid. As Sarah Whatmore (2002) has argued, the task of such hybrid cartographies is to articulate ''the fluxes of becoming that complicate the spacings timings of social life.''

If the idea of becoming complicates the boundaries between the human and nonhuman as distinct registers of being, it also creatively confuses the subdisciplinary boundaries that usually separate human and physical geography. Indeed, one of the key implications of taking seriously ideas of becoming is precisely such boundary confusion. Following Deleuze and Guattari, we can think of particular places as 'blocks of becoming' composed of physical, social, technological, and political–economic forces. It makes little sense – conceptually and or empirically – to try to abstract such forces from one another. In this respect the idea of becoming provides an important element of a conceptual vocabulary that might better allow geographers to rethink complex questions that transcend the strict division between the human and physical side of the discipline – climate change being an obvious example. Here the task is not simply to link natural, social, and technological systems. Rather, each needs to be understood as a series of generative processes through which the very relations that constitute the environment are transformed.

However, the challenge posed by philosophies of becoming is not just that they point to new ways of thinking about space. Such philosophies also demand a recasting of practices of geographical knowledge production. Put another way: to take seriously the becoming of the world is to cultivate a commitment to enactive styles of thinking and doing. This does not necessarily mean devising strange new practices or sites of eventful encounter, although it can. Rather, generating a sense of relations of becoming necessitates the cultivation of modes of address and techniques of writing that amplify the moving resonance of our ongoing involvement with the world.


It is of course possible to raise various cautionary points about thinking space through ideas of becoming. Critics might very well claim that to foreground becoming is to cleave to an overly optimistic view of the potential for change. Nor are the ethicopolitical implications of such ideas always clear. Theories of becoming provoke suspicion insofar as they seem to erode the coherence and distinctness of agencies of and for change. Put another way, of what value is differentiation without agency if this differentiation cannot in some way become the focus for tactics and techniques of intervention? One might counter this critique with the observation that to foreground becoming is to extend agency across assemblages and blocks of space time. It is also about harnessing the transformative potential immanent to open ended spacings – and in this sense it is intensely political. Crucially any spatial politics of becoming is poorly served by thinking of spaces in ontological terms – ontology is insufficient to the task of thinking through geographies of becoming. What is required is an 'ontogenetic' form of thinking space – a form of thinking open to and attuned to its own capacity for variation, cultivating in the process an affective orientation not so much of optimism, but of hope.