The Routledge Handbook of Place, which is a detailed compendium of the diverse and growing approaches to place, was published earlier this year. On Thursday 10th September, IPM hosted an online book launch that brought together the three editors of the book Ares Kalandides, Tim Edensor and Uma Kothari, as well as three chapter authors David Cooper, Jenny Kanellopoulou and Dawn Lyon.
IPM director Ares Kalandides started the proceedings noting how the current pandemic has changed our relations with place completely, mentioning if the book was published now they would add a section addressing the current situation. Ares went on to introduce the idea behind the book and an overview of the content. He discussed the relationship between globalisation and place, stating globalisation challenges our understanding of place, with a common sentiment being that it threatens place by dissolving its specificity. Thus, many antiglobalisation movements respond with a redrawing of stronger boundaries, while others challenge the unequal geometries that globalisation produces. With the rise of localisms, regionalisms and nationalisms that envisage one’s own place as the most important on the hand, other movements highlight global connections and the interconnectedness of place all over the world.
Ares explained the book provides a detailed, state-of-the-art snapshot of this varied thinking about place across disciplines. Ares continued to give a brief overview of the seven interdisciplinary sections of the handbook, noting the book aims to address how worldviews on place, not just the global north. He concluded by discussing his own chapter in the book, which focusses on revisiting Doreen Massey’s global sense of place.
Co-editor Tim Edensor followed firstly by recalling how the book originally came together, mentioning the handbook has been many years in the making, with first discussions happening over 10 years ago. He spoke of his delight in editing this book, saying it was much smoother process than expected, with authors submitting their chapters in a timely fashion. Tim, like Ares, highlighted the breadth and diversity of the work included in the book, which offers new perspectives on place.
Tim then introduced the first two sections of the book titled situating place and the qualities of place respectively. The first section, situating place, aims to unpick thinking about place and scale. Whilst a nation, Tim explained, can be regarded as a place, so can a geographical region or even a house. However, all of this is dependent on the context used. He argued that place is relational and always connected to entities, whether larger or smaller. The section, which includes nine chapters, aims to understand these different scales of place through different perspectives. The following section moves away from representational understandings of place or from attempts to define place, and shifts into thinking about how place feels and how we experience it in the everyday.
Concluding the editors’ presentations, Uma Kothari firstly mentioned how quickly the book came together and her joy in editing it alongside Tim and Ares. Uma discussed the section of the book she edited which focusses on displacement, loss and emplacement. This section of the book aims to understand the notion of place as an event, thinking about place beyond a stable geographical site. She noted how mobility is central to displacement and emplacement, with the section endeavouring to understand how those processes underpin notions of attachment, loss and abandonment. Uma then summarised the chapters and issues covered, with authors focussing on refugees, homelessness, non-human places and abandoned places.
Uma then rapidly took us through her own chapter on colonial imaginaries and colonialized places which features in section two of the book. This chapter looks at how colonial imaginaries of non-western places enabled the acquisition and the expansion of empires. Uma explained colonial imaginaries as how place are perceived, represented and interpreted through colonial discourse, with the western world learning about the distant places of others through common discourses of colonisers and explorers.
Following a Q&A session discussing the process of editing a large handbook and growth of a virtual sense of place during the pandemic, David Cooper delivered a presentation about section seven, which he edited, titled creative engagements in place. David explained that the section brings together a variety of methodological approaches exploring the relationship between creativity and place, with authors from a range of backgrounds including practising artists and writers. Many of the chapters within this section see scholars apply geographical thinking to cultural representations of place such as film, drama and literature. David explained his own chapter draws upon these cultural representations working towards a definition of contemporary British place writing. David stated his chapter focusses on opening up thinking on the growing prominence of reflections on landscapes and the environment in contemporary British literature as well as the rise in importance of virtual places. David mentioned his chapter is all about one critical question: What is place writing?
Next up Jenny Kanellopoulou outlined her chapter ‘Place and law’ which features in section four and deals with power regulation and resistance of place. Jenny explained that her chapter, although theoretical, works towards providing practical implications for lawmakers, legal scholars, legal academics, as well as anyone interested in place related academia. The chapter unpicks what place means and how it is viewed by legal scholars. Jenny stated law is territorially bounded and imposes boundaries upon people’s actions, which has led traditional legal scholarship to view the law as a structure which the world revolves around. She went on to explain that this causes challenges when places and spaces subvert or challenge this understood notion. With questions around what law applies and who enforces it in places such as Antarctica, cyberspace and on the moon, as well as areas such as urban squats and pseudo-public spaces which challenge common understood laws. Jenny argued with boundaries in the law remaining fluid, key questions need to be asked, which rules should apply? What should be legal and who should formulate the laws?
Dawn Lyon concluded the presentations discussing her chapter ‘place-making at work: the role of rhythm in the production of ‘thick’ places’. Dawn’s chapter focusses on London’s famous Billingsgate fish market, exploring its everyday rhythms. Dawn explained she used Lefebvre and Regulier’s theory of rhythmanalysis as well as Casey’s characteristics of thick and thin places as the basis of her chapter. She noted that Billingsgate is characterised by long-serving workers who often talk about the old market based at the centre of London, rather than its current location, which they often refer to negatively. She argues that, although the new market is often lamented, the space is ‘thickened’ and bound by memories of the old market. Secondly, Dawn discussed the performance of place, analysing the rhythms and movements of the employees and fish merchants in the market. Dawn observed the workers noting their movements in order to understand the rhythms and routines of the merchants and other workers in the space.
The Routledge Handbook of Place is now on sale, click here to read a summary of the book.
If you missed the launch of the Routledge Handbook of Place, we have made it available for catch up below.