Belonging Towards a Theory of Identification With Place

October 6, 2017 | Author: razan | Category: Identity (Social Science), Discourse, Rituals, Gender, Ethnicity, Race & Gender
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Belonging: Towards a Theory of Identification with Place Author(s): Neil Leach Source: Perspecta, Vol. 33, Mining Autonomy (2002), pp. 126-133 Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of Perspecta. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1567305 Accessed: 17/04/2010 11:32 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=mitpress. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]

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NEIL LEACH

Architectureis often linkedto questions of culturalidentity. For what sense would discourses such as critical regionalism or gender and space make unless they assumed some connection betweenidentity and architecturalspace?1Andyet architectural theorists have seldom broachedthe question of how people actually ldentify with their environment. Instead they have been preoccupied almost exclusively with questions of form, as though cultural identity is somehow constituted by form alone. It is clear, however,that if theorists are to: link architecture to cultural identity they must extend their analyses beyond any mere discourse of form to engage with subjective processes of identification. This has long been acknowlegedby cultural theorists, who have developed a sophisticated understandingof the mechanisms by which culture operates. For them culture is constituted not by a system of objects alone, but by a discourse that imbues these objects with meaning

MINING AUTONOMY / 127

..Culturalidentity,therefore,emerges as a complex, rhizomatic field of operations that engages with - but is not defined by - cultural artifacts such as architecture. It is perhaps by following the notion of the nation as "narration"- of identity as a kind of discourse - put forwardby cultural theorist Homi Bhabhathat we can graspthe importanceof understanding formas being inscribed within a cultural discourse. The nation, for Bhabha,is enacted as a "culturalelaboration."Toperceivethe nation in this way in narrative terms is to highlight the discursive and contested nature of identities: "Tostudy the nation through its narrative address does not merely draw attention to its language and rhetoric; it also attempts to alter the conceptual object itself. If the problematic 'closure' of textuality questions the 'totalization' of national culture, then its positive value lies in displaying the wide dissemination through which we construct the

field of meanings and symbols associated with national life."2 Of course, it would be wrong to reduce the nationto merenarration,as thoughformweretotally unimportant.Ratherwe haveto recognisethe nation as being defined within a dialectical tension. It is a tension, for Bhabha,between the object and its accompanyingnarrative:"signifyingthe people as an a priorihistoricalpresence,a pedagogicalobject; and the people constructedin the performanceof narrative,its enunciatory present marked in the repetition and pulsation of the national sign."3If, then, the nation is a kind of narration,it is neveran abstract narration,but a contextualizednarration inscribed around certain objects. And it is within this field of objects that have become the focus of narrativeattentionthat we must locatearchitecture, as a language of forms not only embeddedwithin variousculturaldiscourses,but also given meaning by those discourses.

This brings us close to Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus, as a non-conscious system of dispositions that derive from the subject's economic, cultural,and symbolic capital. Habitus,for Bourdieu is a dynamic field of behavior, of position-taking, when individuals inherit the parameters of a given situation and modify them into a new situation. As Derek Robbins explains: "The habitus of everyindividualinscribes the inherited parameters of modification, of adjustment from situation to position which providesthe legacy of a new situation."4This approachsupposes an interaction between social behavior and a given objectified condition. It is here that we may locate the position of architecture in Bourdieu'sdiscourse. Architecture, in Bourdieu's terms, can be understood as a type of "objectivatedcultural capital." Its value lies dormant and in permanent potential. It has to be reactivated by social practices that will, as it were, revive it. In this respect,

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