Translating another’s loss: for a non-mimetic, post-phenomenological account of the other

Ms Vickie Zhang1

1School of Geography, The University of Melbourne


A by-now large and well-established body of contemporary cultural geographical literature teaches us to attend to the senses, routed through a focus on the capacities of the geographer’s own sensing body. Grounded in an unwavering ambition to relations of attunement, relatively little has conversely been written on how geographers might sense the sensibilities of others outside of a presumption or aspiration to shared knowledge and experiences. Picking up this latter point, this paper seeks alternative modes of understanding sociality by foregrounding non-mimetic principles of relation, thinking with theories of translation, communication and community which place disjuncture and differentiation at their core. Writing through examples of my encounters with the losses of others, as I set out to track how the recent closures of two coalmines in regional Australia and China have affected the singular lives of former workers and their local communities, my aim in this paper is to make a claim for the necessary functioning of non-relations, misrecognitions and caesuras as central to any attempt to approach the sensory and aesthetic experiences of another.


Vickie Zhang is a PhD Student in the School of Geography at The University of Melbourne. Her thesis tracks the stories of workers at two recently-closed coalmines in Australia and China, tracing how people’s lives have been affected since the closures. She is interested in non-representational theories and methods, working life and documentary-making.

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