Space, place & home

Austin, Jon (2005) Space, place & home. In: Culture and identity, 2nd ed. Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest, Australia, pp. 107-115. ISBN 0733973299


One of the most powerful locations or reference points for considering matters of individual and group identity is that of Home, with some commentators suggesting that it is the 'most important significance-giving factor in human life' (Cresswell, 2002, p 14). Home is that place, that point of reference for many of us that makes it possible to chart personal individual and group journeys. Home provides a singular reference point, in some cases, a place of safe haven for returning to - and in other cases, a place of horror and tragedy. With regard to this latter point, Rose (1993) has pointed out how home may not be that reassuring concept to many women (and some men) who experience home as a prison, a place of abuse, or, mundanely, a place of hard labour. (Cresswell, 2002, p 15)
Regardless of the affective connections, home assumes a major position within the human psyche and within matters of identity formation, primarily because home connects with and contains that major context within which identity formation occurs: the Family.

This chapter looks at notions of Home and spatial belonging as they help explain identity formation. Here, we will also link notions of individual belonging to the development of national identities, in particular Australian identity, and track some of the development of ideas about this space and place we now know as Australia.

The purpose of this chapter is to expose the connections between the physical and the psychic insofar as coming to identify, to belong and to feel attachment to particular forms of being are rooted, almost literally, in locations that are at once physical (what were the addresses of the places you call Home?) and intellectual (what constitutes Home for you?). If, as Julian Murphett (2004, p 116) maintains, it is at least conceivable that we postmoderns live 'more spatially' than the moderns, who somehow had
it in them to live 'more temporally' than we', then considerations of various dimensions of spatiality
must be explored in order to come to better understand the forces and plays that contribute to identity
formation in the postmodern era.

Understanding something of Place is also particularly important insofar as it is through the encounter
with space and place that humans develop senses of location, both geographical and psychic and,
concomitantly, senses of what it means to be human:

The concept of place is central to our understanding of how people turn nature into culture by making it their home. Indeed, the warm coziness of 'home' as a general concept rubs off on the geographic appreciation of place.
Everywhere, the construction of places turns raw nature into a home for humankind. 'Place is a centre of meaning and a field of care' (Cresswell, 2002, p 13).

With increasing mobility that attaches to contemporary social life - whether that mobility be occasioned by forced or voluntary migration, holiday and business travel or repatriation of, for example, victims of natural and other disasters (witness the tsunami disaster in the Indian
Ocean region in late 2004, for instance) - the connectedness with particular places that has
characterized human existence thus far is clearly in danger of being unsettled. Tuan, almost 30 years ago, identified potential anxieties looming for the human species as a result of this uprootedness, this
modem day nomadism:

[Place] is an organized world of meaning. It is essentially a static concept. If we see that world as process, constantly changing, we would not be able to develop any sense of place ... Modern man [sic] might be so mobile that he can never establish roots and his experience of place may be all too superficial (Tuan, 1977,ppI79, 183).

Herein we see another contributing factor to the growing sense of unease and anxiety described earlier in this volume as the postmodern angst.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2008 01:24
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 01:07
Uncontrolled Keywords: identity; home
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130199 Education systems not elsewhere classified
16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160809 Sociology of Education
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200204 Cultural Theory
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390399 Education systems not elsewhere classified
39 EDUCATION > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy > 390203 Sociology of education
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470207 Cultural theory

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