Space and non/place

Home is the space that is commonly thought to be the closest one to us. By the definition from dictionary.com home is “the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered”. It is the place that we feel attached to. The feeling most associated to home is nostalgia. No matter how far we travelled and how different we had become home will most often remain our place. The place that we feel safe in, the place that we come back when everything falls apart and the place that we can always come back to. However home does not need to be a house that we had grew up in. It can be a hometown that we love coming back to or even our homeland.

Once we are back we tend to alter our identities. We are not faking although we are sometimes a completely different person when home/away. People adjust their identity to the surroundings in a way that feels natural to them. Our surroundings can mean people who live at home like parents whose presence influence our behaviour in a most obvious way (you don’t swear, you don’t smoke or get drunk). However not only people can influence our identity. Think about how your home is organised. Not so long ago every house was organised based on the needs (food, rest, hygiene). After entertainment became common part of the in-house routine some of us welcomed a tv room or a gaming room. Some found a place for a piano or even a ping-pong table but most houses stayed organised by needs. That kind of organisation divided the house into parts and assigned supervisors to it. In the 60s there was a strong division between men’s and women’s duties. That led to women supervision over kitchen and men over study. This was (and sometimes still is) an example of a place determined by cultural factors.

We can see similar organisation in all sorts of different places from schools (place with a strong intellectual identity with part for teachers and part for students) to churches (place with spiritual identity with sacristy and altar). There is however one type of place that is hard to identify. Those places are called non-places (places without identity). Perfect example of that kind of a place is an airport where people go only to leave. To most people airport does not have any other function or aspect beside the transport one. Same goes to supermarkets and parking lots.

 Places, non-places and home are all present in our everyday life. They influence our identity in a hidden or obvious ways and they all form our world.

Bibliography:

  • Augé, M., (1995) Non-places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. Verso Books.
  • Baudrillard, J., (1983) Simulations. Verso Books.
  • Klein, N., (2004) The Vatican to Vegas. The New Press
  • Moran, J., (2006) “Houses, Habit and Memory” in Nature, Culture and Literature, Volume 2: Our House: The Representation of Domestic Space in Modern Culture. Smyth, Gerry, Croft, Jo (eds). Editions Rodopi.
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