Place is an important category in the construction of our individual and social identities. We develop a sense of place both by projecting ourselves onto places and identifying with them in myriad ways. We may, for example, use place names to identify ourselves (“I live in Berlin”, “I am from Greece”); we may be more or less attached to particular places, as they become markers of who we are (“I am a new Berliner”).
By Place, I do not only mean the “bricks and mortar” of a locality, but rather the interaction between the physicality and the social relations that come together in a particular locus. Place attachment then is with people and their cultures, with their food, language and behaviour – as much as with public spaces, landscapes or buildings. It is easier to feel responsible for a place we are attached to, rather than for places we just pass through in the course of our lives. Tourists often behave differently at home than when they travel, although place attachment and responsibility may not be the only reason behind it (throwing away behavioural norms as part of the travel experience or the relative anonymity and lack of social control may be other explanations).
“It is easier to feel responsible for a place we are attached to, rather than for places we just pass through in the course of our lives.”
In a world where many people (though by no means all) move constantly, is there still such a thing as place responsibility and indeed the space for place-based politics? Or as Doreen Massey put it back in 1991, is there a “global sense of place”? Continue reading “An Itinerant Sense of Place”→
I recently had the opportunity to coordinate two workshops that included participation in urban development one in the town of Agios Nikolaos (Crete, Greece) and only a week later in the district of Wedding in Berlin, Germany. The details were indeed rather different, but the basic idea very much the same. In Crete the goal was to think about the town’s identity and to formulate some visions for its future. In Berlin it was about the future of the place: “What do we imagine our neighbourhood to be in 2020”. Both workshops were thoroughly enjoyable, as I always find working with people on the future of their places a very rewarding process. Continue reading “The problem with participation in urban development”→
On June 24th this year Dominic Medway wrote on his Twitter feed: “@PlaceManagement Places are ultimately made, unmade, defined and redefined by people before institutions. We’ve seen that today”. This was of course referring to the result of the so-called ‘Brexit’ referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the EU. The pollsters and the City of London seemed reasonably confident that the outcome of the vote, on June 23rd 2016, would be to ‘remain’, but it seemed both these institutional bodies hugely underestimated the power of the voters to exercise their democratic right to chart an alternative future. Continue reading “The experts are dead: Long live the experts.”→
This image, which appeared on TIP’s (Berlin city magazine) Facebook page on 29th July 2016, depicts a map of Berlin, where boroughs have been replaced by types of fast food. I find the map very funny, but also an interesting case to think about place-related connotations. Before I get into that, let me explain what is what (starting from the outer left and then moving clockwise). Spandau: “SPANDAU”; Reinickendorf: “Currywurst (West)”; Pankow: “Vegetarian Spring Roll”; Lichtenberg: “Nr 131”; Marzahn-Hellersdorf: “Pelmeni”; Treptow-Köpenick: “Currywurst (East)”; Neukölln: “Döner & Schawarma”; Tempelhof-Schöneberg: “Foccacia & Co”; Steglitz-Zehlendorf: “We don’t serve fast food”; Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf: “Crunchy rolls with Tête de moine from Butter Lindner”; Mitte: “Sushi & Sashimi”; Mitte: “Bio-Burger”. Continue reading “Places and figures of speech: metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche”→
I recently came upon a very interesting (and in my opinion also very useful) document, the World Towns Framework, which begins with the following: “We shall support the unique characteristics of each town and urban district, the ‘placeDNA’, to engage communities, businesses and institutions in driving forward their future, and to address the plural and distinctive set of challenges facing these unique places.”
There are several issues I could raise here (e.g. does each town really have unique characteristics or is it the blend of characteristics that is unique? are communities, business and institutions players of the same level or are they different types of categories?), but today I’d like to ponder only the ‘place DNA’. It is an expression that bothers me and always has. Continue reading “Places don’t have DNAs – living organisms do”→
A bizarre piece of news caught my attention recently: A Kosovarian family was allegedly denied citizenship in Switzerland, not for failing to comply with the formal requirements, but for not adapting to the local norms. The transgressions (according to the article) were that the family wore tracksuits instead of jeans and that they did not greet people in passing. If this is true, it sheds a strange light on the very concept of community, which thus appears inward-looking, conservative and exclusive.
Indeed, I find it increasingly difficult to think of the concept in other terms and I believe we should be careful if we want to use it in any meaningful way. Community, the way I understand it, is first of all a group of people who share something – an idea, a common feature or a place. Place in particular is generally entangled in a strong imagery of belonging (communities are groups of people linked to each other through their belonging to a place), though we can clearly think of non place-based communities (internationalism was founded on exactly this idea). I see several problems related to the above.
With the UK moving fast towards the referendum to stay in or leave the EU, we at the Institute of Place Management decided to join our voices with others. As the campaign is becoming increasingly irrational what we can only offer here are our own personal views.
‘The IPM believes Britain remaining in Europe is in the interests of all European places, and their management and development. Here is what the IPM Directors have to say on the matter, all of whom have extensive experience of working with place management practitioners.’ Prof Dominic Medway
Reading the multiple stories that have been praising Berlin with its youth culture and creative scene as the rising star among European cities, it is easy to forget how recent this development actually is. The 2015 Spielberg film “Bridge of Spies” reminds us of what Berlin was mostly about until the fall of the Wall in 1989: World War II (and the Nazis) and the Cold War (and the spies). These two images are still deeply woven into the city’s fabric, although today they’ve become a kind of spectacle for thrill-seeking tourists. (There is a third one, but I’ll come to that later). In this short article I’m offering a personal account of how this passage from one narrative – the dark one – to the other – the playful one – took place. Of course memories cannot always be trusted. Although I was in Berlin on and off since the mid 1980s and permanently since the fall of the Wall, I’m sure my mind has put order and continuity into a much more chaotic and heterogeneous development.
Dr Heather Skinner is a fellow of the Institute of Place Management and was recently appointed Chair of the IPM Special Interest Group on Responsible Tourism. She is now based in Corfu having moved there in 2013 following a 15 year academic career at the University of South Wales (formerly the University of Glamorgan) where she was Reader in Marketing. She travels as a guest lecturer at a number of Higher Education Institutions, facilitates online learning and continues to supervise and examine doctoral theses.
Since 2011, Heather has been researching issues concerning the future of tourism in Corfu, in particular, how Corfu, along with many other mature European destinations, can address the problem of declining numbers of middle-market independent tourists from its key source markets. This work has been undertaken alongside her main research into other place management and marketing issues, with a current focus on responsible tourism.