In-Betweeny Geographers

The power of in-between places has been studied by many earth explorers.  Here are a few that really delve into those abstract identities of what makes a place a place.

John Kirtland Wright: In the 1940s, John Kirtland Wright pioneered concepts of human perception as an important factor to geographical understanding, writing about how the feel of a place was as important as the actual material composition. Wright called to fellow geographers to embrace rather than disregard their perceptions of the world, allowing their own siren call of the imagination to lead them, and their aesthetic subjectivity, with creativity as its guide, to direct world discoveries (Wright, 1947).

Wright, J. K. (1947). Terrae incognitae: The place of the imagination in geography. Annals for the Association of American Geographers, 37(1), 1-15. 

Edward Casey:  Humanistic and philosophical geographer Edward Casey explores multiple concepts of place, with perception as an important part of the process of understanding the world around us, to which he called us placelings.  Casey writes:

“Minimally places gather things in their midst — where “things connote various animate and inanimate entities. Places also gather experiences and histories, even languages and thoughts. Think only of what it means to go back to a place you know, finding it full of memories and expectations, old things and new things, the familiar and the strange, and much more besides…(this) power belongs to place itself, and it is a power of gathering.” (1996, p. 24-25)

Casey, E. S. (1996). How to get from space to place in a fairly short stretch of time: Phenomenological prolegomena. In S. a. B. Feld, K.H. (Ed.), Senses of place (pp. 13-52). Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press. 

Keith Basso:  An anthropologist by training, Keith Basso’s work incorporates a philosophical search for place meaning beyond Western thought. In his investigation of Apache people’s connections to landscape, Basso concludes that “sense of place” is experienced in both the “heart and mind” (1996, p. 54). Basso scribes an elder’s poetic expression of his homeland, inspiring the title of his 1996 work Wisdom Sits in Places:

“Wisdom sits in places. It’s like water that never dries up. You need to drink water to stay alive, don’t you? Well you also need to drink from places. You must remember everything about them. You must learn their names. You must remember what happened at them long ago. You must think about it and keep on thinking about it.” (A passage told by Apache elder Dudley Patterson, p. 70).

Basso, K. H. (1996). Wisdom sits in places:Notes of a Western Apache landscape. In S. B. Feld, K.H. (Ed.), Senses of place (pp. 53-90). Santa Fe, New Mexico School of American Research Press. 

Yi-Fu Tuan:  A paramount figure in the formation of humanistic geography, Yi-Fu Tuan explored phenomenology and existentialism in the landscape, delving into ideas of sense and feeling of place, including how we bond to our environments emotionally. Tuan relates the fundamental importance of connecting an individual’s intimate  relationships to places, writing:

“The feel of the pavement, the smell of the evening air, and the color of autumn foliage become, through long acquaintance, extensions of ourselves-not just a stage but supporting actors in the human drama” (1974, p. 452). 

Tuan, Y.-F. (1974). Topophilia: A study of environmental perception, attitudes, and values (Morningside Edition 1990 ed.). New York: Colombia University Press. rs.

Doreen Massey:  Social geographer Doreen Massey investigates construction of place, arguing that human activity plays a large role in the constant shifting expression of place identity. Massey focuses on the complexities making-up individual identities which transfer to place-making identities  writing  ” conflict between interests and views of what the area is and what it ought to become.” (1991, p. 276).  Massey writes:

“Localities are constructions out of the intersections and interactions of concrete social relations and social processes in a situation of copresence…It is people, not places in themselves, which arereactionary or progressive. (1991, p. 278)

Massey, D. (1991). The political place of locality studies. Environment and Planning A, 23(2), 267-281. 

Who are your favorite in-betweenies?

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