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According to Cresswell, place is perhaps the most important term in the discipline of geography 1. Locations are physical spots on the surface of the planet where things exist, although those physical locations are not always stationary Place needs to be distinguished from two related terms: space and landscape. Space, as Yi-Fu Tuan argues, is more abstract than place: spaces have areas and volumes, but places have spaces between them However, since the s, this distinction in human geography has become confused by the notion of social space, or socially produced space, particularly as articulated by Henri Lefebvre in The Production of Space ; social space is, in many ways, similar to notions of place Landscape, on the other hand, is a term that derives from landscape painting.
It is an intensely visual idea, Cresswell argues. Moreover, in most definitions of landscape, the viewer is positioned outside of the landscape. When we look at the world as a world of places, we see different things. We see attachments and connections between people and place. We see worlds of meaning and experience. Sometimes this way of seeing can seem to be an act of resistance against a rationalization of the world that focuses more on space than place.
To think of an area of the world as a rich and complicated interplay of people and the environment—as a place—is to free us from thinking of it as facts and figures. At other times, however, seeing the world through the lens of place leads to reactionary and exclusionary xenophobia, racism, and bigotry.
This book is as much about place as a way of knowing as it is about place as a thing in the world. It is as much about epistemology as it is about ontology. Place, at a very basic level, is space invested with meaning in the context of power.
One of the main tasks of geography as a discipline, in fact, has been to make sense of place. At the same time, Cresswell notes, place is a contested concept, and what it means is the subject of debate in many disciplines; the purpose of this book is to think through these various ways of defining place The first explicit philosophies of place appear in the work of Plato and Aristotle; place was the fundamental basis of existence for anything else, according to Aristotle, because in order for something to exist, it had to be somewhere The phenomenology of Heidegger and Bachelard become important for humanistic geographers in the s, particularly the work of Yi-Fu Tuan and Edward Relph Tuan argues that place is the product of a pause, and that it is therefore presents a chance for attachment Relph, on the other hand, argues that the characteristics of place include visuality, a sense of community, a sense of the time involved in developing an attachment to a place, and rootedness as a value For Relph, consciousness is situated, and place determines our experience Those feminist geographers represent only one form of critical engagement with ideas of place.
Marxist and poststructuralist geographers also questioned the celebration of place in the work of humanistic geographers Harvey claims that place is a social construct, which places him at odds with philosophers of place, such as Edward Casey and J. However, there is little empirical detail in the work of Sack, Malpas, or Casey; their discussions tend to be generalized rather than specific Cresswell next turns to assemblage theory: the idea that there is a process of gathering—of things, emotions, people memories—which suggests a relationship between the inside of a place which gathers and an outside from where things are gathered.
This notion also therefore suggests a relationship between place and things that are on the move, or between place and mobility Assemblages are distinct from organic structures, however, which are also composed of parts. Organic structures depend on each part in order to exist, and if a constituent part is removed, an organic structure will cease to exist in a recognizable way Assemblages involve two key axes.
The first axis connects the two key roles played by elements of an assemblage: expressive roles and material roles. In a home, for example, there are forces that stabilize its identity both legal and physical—a deed, a main beam and processes that make that identity less stable entropy, the lines that lead out from the home to the wider world In the conclusion to this chapter, Cresswell argues that these various approaches suggest that place can be apprehended at three levels.
The first level consists of a descriptive approach to place, which focuses on the distinctiveness and particularity of places. The second is the social constructionist approach to place, where the particularity of places are instances of more general underlying social processes. Place-writing practices provide descriptive accounts of individual places, but at the same time they also grapple with the phenomenological significance of places to their inhabitants and the ways in which power and society produce and are produced by places How is the idea of place, and actual places, related to the idea of mobility, and to actual mobilities?
Lefebvre was primarily interested in the rhythms that are imposed on bodies, rather than the ones they develop themselves. Structuration theory, which Cresswell associates with the work of sociologists Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu, is an attempt.
Structurationists say that our actions are neither determined by structures above and beyond us, nor completely the product of free will. Structures depend on our actions to exist and our actions are given meaning by the structures that lie beyond them. Applications of structuration theory to geography acknowledge that we inhabit material landscapes that we had little say in constructing. We cannot walk through walls and we are unlikely to wander down the middle of the road without endangering our lives.
Places also have less concrete structures. Laws and rules pervade space. At any given moment in time, place provides a geographically specific set of structures. But even with layer upon layer of structuring conditions no one can safely predict what you or I are going to do. Desire lines or desire paths across lawns are one everyday example of the way that agency is expressed in places. At this point, Cresswell returns to the work of Allan Pred.
Along with Pred, geographers Nigel Thrift and Derek Gregory have been influential in developing notions of process and practice in human geography Thirdspace is practiced and lived rather than simply being material conceived or mental perceived.
The focus on the lived world does seem to provide theoretical groundwork for thinking about a politics of space based on place as lived, practiced, and inhabited space. Places are like desire paths, then, or even footpaths, which grow over, eventually, if they are not used. They are practices, rather than things. The work of Soja and de Certeau, Cresswell writes,. Place provides a template for practice—an unstable stage for performance.
Thinking of place as performed and practiced can help us think of place in radically open and non-essentialized ways, where place is constantly struggled over and reimagined in practical ways. Place is the raw material for the creative production of identity rather than an a priori label of identity.
Place provides the conditions of possibility for creative social practice. However, Cresswell argues, such terms are complicated. Global processes, she notes, involve gender and race as well as capitalism, and the reasons people move are not homogenous: some are forced to move, while others are forced to stay still. Chapter five looks at the ways that place an be used in research and practice Among the examples he thinks about here are sexually diverse people in public spaces, the homeless, refugees, tramps, and animals that are out of place.
Massey, Doreen. Thank you Tim for this. Well that what we think we made! But an analysis in the light of what you have written about would be interesting some time. Like Like. Like Liked by 1 person. Thanks for your response. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account.
Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Works Cited Cresswell, Tim. Routledge, Place: An Introduction. Like this: Like Loading Published: February 21, Filed Under: Reading. February 24, at pm. Janette kerr says:. February 25, at am. March 18, at pm. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:.
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Place: An Introduction, 2nd Edition
This text makes debates about intelligible to students, using illustrations from the news, popular culture, and everyday life as a way into more abstract ideas. It traces the development of the concept of place from the s through its subsequent appropriation by cultural geography and the linking of place to politics. Substantial parts of exemplary papers by Doreen Massey and David Harvey are included as a focus for discussion, and the author also considers empirical examples of ways in which the concept of place has been mobilised in research. Teaching and learning aids include an annotated bibliography, lists of key readings and texts, a survey of web resources, and suggestions for pedagogical resources and student projects. Place : A Short Introduction.
Place: A Short Introduction
Place : A Short Introduction
Account Options Sign in. My library Help Advanced Book Search. Place : A Short Introduction. Tim Cresswell.