Kaia S. Rønsdal
In my project, Magnificent Encounters, I approach the main topic from three different perspectives. These are spatial theory, theology and phenomenology, tackling issues related to both methodology and theory development.
Spatial theory is connected to the paradigmatic shift called the spatial turn, and is essentially about social and geographic spaces’ meaning in analysis of people and practices. Where things happen is critical to knowing how and why they happen. Spatial perspectives dis-cover new elements of social life, and what it means to give others space and what it means that others are given space or are given their rightful space. The spatial perspectives also represent the means for a critique and a challenge to the traditional discourse on society.
Space is never finished. It is a constant process that is always under construction. All social relations become real and concrete and part of our lived social existence, only when they are spatially ‘inscribed’ in the social production of social space (Soja, 1996). A premise for the production of space is that space is relational, firmly linked to social reality, and from this follows that space is produced (Schmid, 2008, 28). They are social practices between humans as bodily and sensuous beings who have relationships “through their activity and practice” (2008, 29). Space is to be understood in an active sense as an intricate web of relationships that is continuously produced and reproduced. Spaces are formative.
The analysis thus concerns active processes of production. In the context of [Nordic] borderlands, then, both the displaced and the ‘placed’ are all producing space, and that space exits from the moment of encounter.
The interpretations of space are connected to how the relationships are between the different levels – changes occur in the interplay between all the levels of space. A space is constantly in motion, always different, always being moved forward – the world is moved forward by contrasts, contradictions and tensions (Lefebvre, 2007 , 42).
The theological perspective has its foundation in Scandinavian creation theology, and emphasise two lines of thought regarding human life that are distinctive for this particular interpretation. The first is the understanding of creation, meaning interpreting the world as “already God’s creation, a reality which should be cared for and enjoyed for its own sake, by believers and non-believers alike” (Gregersen/Uggla/Wyller, 2017, 11).
Life is not created by us, it is given to us and we partake in the continuous creation, and this condition is the same and is shared by all human beings, regardless of faith. The other central and explicitly theological distinction is the profession of a divine presence also outside religious or sacred spaces – in the everyday. Also in the everyday lives of people who not necessarily think of themselves as religious. This gives a sacredness to the everyday and to everyday spaces that opens for theological interpretations of aspects and locations of life that are traditionally not thought of as sacred.
This theological tradition is a central part of the foundation for Nordic cultural and religious heritage, and what may be a lens for finding and interpreting Nordic hospitality.
The concept of creation is also a philosophical (and phenomenological) position. Life is in constant renewal (Løgstrup, 2000, 5), and thus creation is not something that is ever finished, it is continuously created in the now.
It has to do with view of man, that we are constantly responsible for the continuous creation, and our continuously created fellow humans. It si not a religious questions, but a universal challenge to everybody, in a reciprocal interdependence regardless of faith or creed. The creation is universal, and that it is characterised by motion, change and life.
The other has always been an important figure and phenomenon for theology, that “takes part in the task of perceiving the other” (Heimbrock/Meyer, 2010, 199). This emphasis is closely linked to the phenomenological perspectives that I work with. In phenomenology, the fact that we share [created] life, reality and world, makes us part of the same lifeworld [with divine presence]: “A human is inherently related to others, to nature, culture and society,” and, furthermore, we “share the same planet, and therefore unavoidably live at the expense of other life-forms, and repeatedly do so at the expense of others” (Gregersen/Uggla/Wyller, 2017, 21). Reality is thought of as a radically open concept, which leaves space to think otherness and changeability for the world. It is a normative, philosophical, life-interpreting approach to God, life, humans, and the world.
The borderlands are “areas where the traditional contradictions between the secular and the sacred, religion and politics, and ethical and emic are contested and reformatted. In the practical empirical world [and in lived space] they are seldom binaries” (Wyller/Machado/Turner, 2018, 8). As spatial interpretation is always triadic, refusing all binaries, there is always a third. This premise challenges us to expand beyond the binaries from the very beginning.
What implications do spatial analysis and experiences of everyday life in a marginalised microspace have for reinterpreting and construing the concept of calling?
The dissertation combines the perspective of production of space, ethical theory and fieldwork, focusing on the contradictions in lived space, by observing encounters and interactions between different groups of people in everyday public space.
It is an interdisciplinary contribution to the science of diaconia. The interest lies with the lives that diaconia traditionally have been concerned with and the spaces where these lives are lived, exploring the concept of calling through narratives of these lives and spaces. The book challenges and contributes to traditional and contemporary notions of calling as it is understood in the Scandinavian tradition. These notions, stemming from interpretations of Luther, place the calling among humans, as opposed to it being something exclusively divine and ecclesiastical.
The discussion on the calling is enriched with concepts stemming from French sociology and human geography, primarily from H. Lefebvre and M. Foucault, as well as phenomenological contributions. These are concerned with the significance of body, space, urbanity, and spatial interpretation as space is a relational, formative phenomenon constituted in practice and interaction. Through methodologies developed from phenomenology and spatial theory, where the researcher subject is an evident embodied participant, detailed accounts from the field form the material, describing everyday life in an Oslo cityscape.
From this material, the concept of calling is explored, developing the discussion from the perspective of the spaces of others. The assumption being that it is in the spaces where people meet and bodies respond to other bodies, whether marginalised or not, that calling may manifest itself. Through spatial analysis of the minute details of bodies and socialities in everyday life, new material for ethical considerations is explored. The analysis and discussion may enrich and further deepen the understanding of what takes place in public spaces, recognising them as a source of knowledge in a range of disciplines. These everyday encounters may also be described and analysed as contributions to the development of theory and praxis of diaconia.
Christian Social Practice, Diaconia, Marginalisation, Citizenhsip, Spatial Theory, Urbanity
- PhD: “Calling Bodies in Lived Space. Spatial Explorations on the Concept of Calling in a Public Urban Space” (2016).
- Master degree in Professional Ethics and Science of Diaconia, Faculty of Theology (2006)
- Bachelor in child welfare, Sør-Trøndelag University College (2002)
- Research assistant for Prof. Trygve Wyller on a varity of projects (2006-2009), including editorial work on publications such as Heterotopic Citizen (2009) and Perceiving the Other (2010).
- Professional experience from work and practices directed at substance users.
- Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2017). Hverdagsmarginalisering og bytilhørighet, I: Inger Marie Lid & Trygve Wyller (red.), Rom og etikk. Fortellinger om ambivalens. Cappelen Damm Akademisk. ISBN 978-82-02-53500-1. Kapittel 4. s 55 - 72
- Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2016). Murmurs of Pastoral Care?, In Trygve Wyller; Kaspar Villadsen & Hans-Joachim Sander (ed.), The Spaces of Others - Heterotopic Spaces. Practicing and Theorizing Hospitality and Counter-Conduct beyond the Religion/Secular Divide. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. ISBN 978-3-525-60455-7. 9. s 121 - 142
- Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2013). Citizenship and the Recognition of the Other - The Impact for Christian Social Practice, In Johannes Eurich & Ingolf Hübner (ed.), Diaconia against Poverty and Exclusion in Europe. Challenges - Contexts - Perspectives. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt - Wissenschaft. ISBN 9783374031689. Perspectives. s 227 - 241
- Schultz, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye (2011). CSP - Caught between Marshall and Belonging. A Discussion of Contemporary CSP and Citizenship Theory. Diaconia. Journal for the Study of Christian Social Practice. ISSN 1869-3261. 2(1), s 14- 28
- Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2018). Calling Bodies in Lived Space. Spatial Explorations on the Concept of Calling in a Public Urban Space. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. ISBN 9783525570913. 202 s.
- Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2017). Calling Bodies in Lived Space - Spatial Explorations on the Concept of Calling in a Public Urban Space. Acta Theologica. 60.
- Solevåg, Anna Rebecca; Skippervold, Petter & Schultz, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye (2010). Religion og normativitet fra Århus. Norsk Teologisk Tidsskrift. ISSN 0029-2176. 111(3), s 216- 226