In this post I offer a general overview of the range of different ideas about sense of place.
Some of its important variations, such as a poisoned sense of place and a global sense of place, I intend to cover in more detail in future posts. Topics are: I intend to discuss some of these (e.g.
And while it is almost always regarded as altogether positive, it is important to remember that sense of place can contribute to negative, exclusionary, even xenophobic attitudes, and ambiguity nicely captured by John Milton in Book 1: The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.
Sense of Place as a distinctive aspect of somewhere (equals genius loci) The phrase sense of place is often used to refer to the quality that makes somewhere distinctive.
It is what Erskine Caldwell was driving at when he declared that there would be “nothing to write about if people had no fixed places of living.” In a cultural context sense of place is usually shared by others living in the same bit of the world and is an essential part of regional and local enthusiasms.
An Exhibition of Works by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in the art gallery in Matsumoto, the city where she grew up Two installations by Yayoi outside the Matsumoto Gallery – in her distinctive polka dot stye It is, furthermore, an intersubjective feeling,an innate faculty possessed in some degree by everyone and recognizable to others who live elsewhere.
It often turns up in tourist and promotional literature with much the same meaning, which is not altogether felicitous. It is an awkward and ambiguous translation of centuries, referred to, for instance, by Alexander Pope and John Dryden. Sense and Nonsense of Place Landscape architect Grady Clay was even more outspoken when he wrote about “sense and nonsense of place.” He suggested that ‘sense of place’ is “a sociological invention” and he concocted a table of “Buzzwords for the manufacture of a ‘Sense of Place’ found in contemporary real-estate advertisements”: for example There is no undoing the development of language, but I do think using it as a naive substitution for spirit of place is unfortunate and best avoided.
Sense of Place as a faculty for distinguishing and appreciating places This is the most common usage.
It refers to a human faculty that pulls together and arranges information from the senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing, and also calls on memory and imagination.
It is a living ecological relationship between a person and particular place, a feeling of comfort and security, similar to what environmental psychologists consider place attachment.