Place and Space

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Tj van Rensburg – 11029005 Critical Studies 2B – Place and Space Essay In unpacking the concept of ‘Place’ I have chosen to write about a photograph taken by Tareen Photography, a photographer from New Zeeland. It is a photograph depicting a homeless man on one of the many piers on the Durban beachfront. (Fig . 1) I believe that this photo is a good example in discussing ‘place’ as a concept.

Place is a word used in every day language, primarily to indicate a certain location that could even be demonstrated with the use of coordinates to pinpoint where that location is in the world, although it can also be used to imply ownership or a sense of hierarchy. A place could refer to a house or a park this creates a locale around the place, giving it a more in-depth meaning than mere coordinates as it holds a material setting. With the given location and locale, one could establish a sense of place, which demonstrates that humans establish a relationship with a place to create meaning and emotional attachment to place.

According to; John Agnew (1987) place as a meaningful location is established by using the three fundamental aspects of location, locale and sense of place. (Cresswell T, 2004) Using John Agnew’s method in establishing the understanding of place around Tareen’s photograph, one could see that it is a location situated on the east cost of South Africa and has the material setting of concrete piers, beaches, buildings, roads, water, and so on. In establishing a sense of place around this place, one would look at how and why it is occupied by human interaction.

For example people would use it as a place to go swim, relax, ride a bike and so on. Through explaining this captured image of the Durban beachfront, place has been transformed into a meaningful location. Discussing place in relation to Tareen’s photo, consideration to the concept of space should be paid. To elaborate, Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer in 1497 found Durban while sailing in the pursuit of creating a new route to India. From his perspective one would consider Durban as land without meaning to anyone in relation to him. By naming this found space Natal, he had given the space meaning, which makes place.

By interacting with space and creating any relation with the space, one would create a sense of place through their interaction with the specific space. One creates place by interacting and creating a relationship with the selected space. “When humans invest meaning in a portion of space and then become attached to it in some way it becomes place. ” (Cresswell T, 2004 (Lefebvre 1991; Smith 1991)). When one looks at Durban beachfront as a landscape, they are referring to it as a portion of the earth’s surface, which means landscape is a purely visual idea.

Therefore when Durban is seen as a landscape, it is merely being looked at with no emotional attachment. Although when looking at this place, we can see the attachments and connections people have with the place and this will show that the place holds many different meanings to the various people that hold a sense of place to the specific location. (Cresswell T, 2004) This space that the image portrays holds a sense of place to many people, although that sense of place would differ between these people as they all hold their own personal and emotional attachment with this space.

For example, a person that sells fruit on the beachfront sees this area as a place of work where as a holidaymaker would see it as a place a leisure and fun. There are certain aspects that can relate people’s sense of place as they could hold a common connection with the space and interact with it in a similar manner. To elaborate on what was discussed above by taking the man in the image into account, him holding the idea of place around the beachfront would be very different to most people. That man could possibly see the beachfront as a means of survival and refuge.

One would assume he has no financial income or stability; therefore he uses this place to scrounge for food and what ever money he can, possibly by begging. This creates a sense of place because of his interaction with the space and his attachment to it. This man most likely has the idea of the beachfront to be his home because there would be a strong sense of attachment and he would feel very rooted in this place. Although when considering a place to be your home, one is not so limited by space or scale, as you could consider the Earth, South Africa, Durban,

Glenwood, or even the Durban beachfront to be your home, because one could hold an attachment or be rooted in these places where they gain the felling of home. (Cresswell T, 2004) Durban seen as a region demonstrates that it is a place that is marked in the world and this can draw attention, the cultural aspects of place. ”Environment determined society and culture”(Cresswell T, 2004 Pg 17). This means that the culture of people is determined by the place they inhabit. This is evident when one would look at the culture that is experienced on the Durban beachfront. Durban is an amazingly diverse place, the people are unique and the vibe is one of a kind. The culture and experience on the beachfront is one you will only ever experience there, I have never been anywhere that is like it”, said a resident in Durban North; Warren Ellis (2012) in an interview I conducted. This is more evidence to prove that a place can determine and establish a specific cultural platform. When the war between the British and the Zulus happened in 1879, they were fighting over control of Durban. The Zulu people saw Durban as their place, their home and the British saw it as a place for development and trading.

Both of them had a sense of place in Durban, although they differed and so did their cultures, as they are not from the same place, their cultures where determined by the different places they came from. This demonstrates that place is experienced in different ways, as it is a specific location, the idea of place and the interaction/experience with it is different to different people. (06/03/2010; www. thesouthafricaguide. com) Genealogy of place suggests that place is an object that can be looked at, spoken or written about as well as a way of looking.

Durban beachfront is a place that can be looked at and research can be conducted on it, providing available information to learn about the place as a subject/object. There are countless written information about Durban all through various people’s sense of place and their connection to it. Every one that sees Durban beachfront as a place holds some kind of attachment or connection with it. The way some one would look at this place is unique to them, as everyone has their own way of looking at things, therefore gaining their own association and attachment to the place. (Cresswell T, 2004)

Through this image there is an emotional experience allowing the viewer to see it as a place and the homeless man helps to demonstrate the complexities of space and place in relation to human occupancy in these locations. This allows a deeper understanding of how geography can be used in generating further understanding into basic locations on the earth’s surface into a greater inquiry into the places we have created. Discussing place and space in relation to Tareen’s photo allowed an in-depth look at the concept that runs deeper than the literal every day meaning of place and space.

One could argue that when thinking about place it is fundamentally placing human activity at the center of the study. Bibliography ? Cresswell T: Place, A short introduction. (2004) Blackwell 1. Introduction: defining place (1-14) i) Agnew J 1987; The united States in the World Economy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge ii) Lefebvre H 1991 The production of space Blackwell, Oxford, UK iii) Smith N 1991 Uneven Development: Nature,Capital, and the Production of Space B. Blackwell, Oxford. 2. The genealogy of place (15-52) ?

Author unknown: South African History – Natal South Africa – Vasco Da Gama, (06/03/2010) http://www. thesouthafricaguide. com/famous-south-africans-andhistory/south-african-history-–-discovery-of-south-africa-vasco-dagama/ ? Tareen Photography http://www. tareenphotography. com/wedding-photographer—fashionphotographer—family-photographer–commercial-photographer 1. Picture (Fig . 1) http://tareenphotography. wordpress. com/2012/02/12/durbanbeach-front/ ? Warren Ellis (2012): Interview, Durban North Appendix Figure 1:

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