Place is one of those experiences that can be difficult to conceptualize, as it often situates experiences but doesn’t become an object of experience itself. It organizes our world, remaining in the background as we experience various aspects of that organization. But as many fields are beginning to realize, the way our mind, our culture, and our institutions understand places can do great harm. Our descriptions of other places in relation to where we are, the way media privilege the experience of certain places over others, and the practices by which we connect ourselves to some places rather than others, can perpetuate systems of oppression.
The philosophy of place tries to understand how humans grasp place as such, and how different practices can yield different experiences of place. It also looks at the connections between place and psychology, geography, sociology, and anthropology, among other fields. Hopefully, it will produce a greater understanding of how to develop new places in ethical, healthy, and sustainable ways. Personally, I would like to see the field help artists incorporate the concept of place into their work, so that the experience of place can become an aesthetic one. As you consider the role place has in your work and daily life, try reading some of the following papers.
- Abraham Olivier, “The Place of Philosophy in Africa,” Southern Journal of Philosophy, December 2016.
- Nicolas Howe, “Place and Pluralism in the Environmental Humanities,” English Language Notes, Fall/Winter2017.
- Bethany Davila and Hannah Dickinson, “At a Distance: The Encoding of Place in the University,” Composition Studies, Fall 2016.
- Lisa Eckenwiler, “Defining Ethical Placemaking for Place-Based Interventions,” American Journal of Public Health, November 2016.
- Michael Donnelly and Ceryn Evans, “Framing the geographies of higher education participation: schools, place and national identity,” British Educational Research Journal, February 2016.
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