Progress in Human Geography, 33(4) pp 487-506

Recent years have witnessed a burgeoning of work on `thinking space relationally’. According to its advocates, relational thinking challenges human geography by insisting on an open-ended, mobile, networked, and actor-centred geographic becoming. The paper discusses the importance of this `relational turn’ by positioning it within the lineage of philosophical approaches to space in geography. Following this, it highlights some silences and limits, namely factors that constrain, structure, and connect space. The paper then offers a moderate relationalism by discussing the notion of `phase space’. This acknowledges relationality but insists on the confined, sometimes inertial, and always context-specific nature of geography. Some challenges for this approach are discussed.