The unworlding and worlding of agoraphobia




McWatters, Mason R., 1980-

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It is not uncommon to hear people speak of their worlds coming undone during traumatic events of existential crisis or catastrophe. Yet, human geographers have largely neglected to attend to the phenomenal nature of this unbounded sense of 'unworlding' disintegration, as well as the wild material forces, agencies and passions at loose in the world that carry the unlimited potential to wreck the integrity of our worlds. This dissertation dedicates itself to critically thinking through the human experience of suffering to live through, confront and respond to unworlding disasters of sense that are materially capable of disrupting the functional and relational composition of our worlds. More concretely, in this dissertation I explore unworlding disasters of sense through the specific experiences of agoraphobic sufferers. While social scientists, including human geographers, have long been interested in what is sociologically, spatially and clinically exceptional about agoraphobia as a static predicament of being spatially bounded due to fear of public space, little to no consideration has been given to how agoraphobia primitively and phenomenally manifests itself as an eventful disordering of sense that unsettles not just one's situated place in the world, but the entire relational order of the world itself. By critically attending to agoraphobia as an eventful disordering of sense that improperly deforms the structure of a human world, I seek to develop new ways to account for affective disasters of unworlding that carry the potential to overturn a proper sense of the world. Furthermore, I also speculate on the finite human ability to affirmatively respond to, make sense of, and impose limits on unworlding disasters that exceed one's subjective ability to grasp, yet improperly and materially affect the entire scope of one's lifeworld. In terms of its greater contribution to the discipline of geography, in this dissertation I strive to develop new understandings about the human condition of being in an eventful, material world that infinitely exceeds our ability to subjectively control or understand. By doing so, this dissertation aims to reaffirm the humanistic perspective as a theoretically valid and ethically critical way of practicing geography after the non-representational turn.



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