Knowledge and space are closely related. Knowledge, if unterstood as the ability to socially act in a competent and effective way, is not an object that can be easily located in space. It rather is a part of social practices and therefore embodied by social actors, shared among social practices of collaboration and worked into tools, artefacts and objects of the respective practice. Because knowledge cannot be mobilized without exerting a practice, it is strongly embedded in local contexts. For example, the knowledge of a heart surgeon can be mobilised best in the local context of a hospital with high-tech equipment, support from his staff and high numbers of patients. Despite this local embeddedness of knowledge it is possible to come up with or make use of the same ideas at different places if the contexts are rather similar.

Some research at the IRS focuses on the nature of embedding knowledge into spatial processes, on the forms and practices of sharing knowledge over several places and on the interreleation between the mobility and the translation of knowledge for different local contexts. This includes the transfer of knowledge in other practices (e.g. scientific consulting) and the forms of cooperations, the power relations and the media of knowledge sharing.

Photo: © Stephanie Hofschlaeger/