Which Identity for the Place? A Geophilosophical Approach

In: Inculturalism: Meaning and Identity
Laura Menatti
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Is it still possible to speak about the identity of place in today’s globalised world? This chapter addresses this provocative question by examining and criticising theories based on the concepts of heimat and genius loci and by suggesting that the identity of place is strictly connected with the post-modern phenomenon of non-place (Augé). In fact, globalisation produces placelessness (the loss of place diversity) as well as new sources and forms of belonging such as tribalism, localism and musealisation of evocative places. This new globalised landscape induces the philosopher into elaborating a new concept of place. In this chapter I suggest considering place as a qualitative central feature of a multi-faceted rhizomatic net. I refer to the rhizome as a new model of global space which makes it possible to understand the relation between local and global, where places involve a complex and dynamic identity. My ‘geophilosophical’ approach also scrutinises the meaning of place from an ethical point of view. It questions a mere aesthetical notion of landscape and considers the concept of place as a source of meaning for those who dwell and live in or through it. The relation between place and those who interact with it, therefore, is both ethical and ontological. The concept of place that I suggest looks at the continuous and dynamic relationship between nature and culture. It also requires recognising the place as it is perceived and experienced by the insiders and outsiders who interact with its memorial, historical and cultural dimensions. It necessitates a multidisciplinary approach which will permit the understanding of the relationship between the inquisitive and ethical concerns of human beings and the affordances of place. Finally, this chapter discusses the Council of Europe’s Landscape Convention as an example of acknowledgement of geophilosophical issues and as a paradigmatic political and ethical model for the globalised place and for today’s human co-existence in a nomadic world.

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