Of eagles and flies: Orientations toward the site

Keith Woodward, John Paul Jones, Sallie A. Marston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


The macro-micro distinction is one of the most powerful in the human and physical sciences. In this article we challenge the macro by positing an alternative that recognises the intricacies and complexities of material geographies. We employ the Latin proverb - Aquila non captat muscas (Eagles don't catch flies) - to epitomise our position. Instead of looking to general theory - the bird's eye view - we argue for interrogating the ontological and methodological implications of a reciprocal, but antithetical, perspective - that of the flies. We call this alternative the site, an ontology that attempts to account for the different and varying political possibilities - virtually infinite and 'un-catalogue-able' - constantly at work in the world. The site is a formulation that recognises social life as a realm of infinite singularity and variability, where matter is immanently self-organising and pure difference unfolds. We explore the spatiality of the site through the concepts of topology and difference and then develop four methodological orientations for exploring the terrain of situated practices enmeshed in and unfolding through sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-280
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Difference
  • Methodology
  • Politics
  • Site ontology
  • Subjectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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