Academic journal article Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Are Residential Dwellers Marking and Claiming? Applying the Concepts to Humans Who Dwell Differently

Academic journal article Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Are Residential Dwellers Marking and Claiming? Applying the Concepts to Humans Who Dwell Differently

Article excerpt

Abstract. Mitch Rose's paper in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (volume 30, issue 5, pages 757-771) arguing that dwelling involves acts of marking and claiming offers bountiful conceptual tools for understanding the dwelling experience. Here, I apply Rose's ideas to the modern residential dweller and use this application to assess Rose's claims. Specifically, the typical and mainstream modern home dweller is contrasted with several different empirical case studies of people who dwell differently, using alternative technologies, practices, and forms of organization in residential dwelling. These case studies are explored using the language of 'marking' and 'claiming' as put forth by Rose (pace Martin Heidegger) to illustrate what these concepts offer for understanding the experience of dwelling in a home. The observations of residential dwellers who dwell differently suggest that Rose's concepts do help to elucidate the dwelling experience, but that intellectual assistance from other sources, including classical and contemporary pragmatist thought and the work of Marcel Mauss on the relationship between action and thought as well as Paul Harrison's claims regarding relationality and variation in dwelling, helps to further develop Rose's abstract formulaic and connect the dots between conceptualization and the empirical experiences of residential dwelling.

Keywords: dwelling, alternative technology, residential life

1 Introduction

When I saw the title of Mitch Rose's paper in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (2012), I got excited in a way that only fellow academics might understand--someone had published something seemingly directly related to my own work! In the past few years I have studied several different cases of alternative residential dwelling--ways of using different technologies, materials, and forms of organization in residential homes--and I was thrilled to see a potentially useful conceptual scheme for understanding how people dwell.

According to Rose, "Dwelling ... is a way of marking and claiming; it is the event by which a world is built and named as one's own" (2012, page 758). He argues that "dwelling needs to be conceived as a modality of practice that marks and claims a world through the building of material objects and/or environments" (page 759). Elaborating on the concepts of marking and claiming, Rose writes,

"In saying that dwelling is marking I mean to suggest that dwelling 'marks out' a specific region of relations through the production of objects that catalyse those relations. In saying that dwelling is claiming I draw attention to the ontological fragility of such creations" (page 759).

Working through some of the intellectual oeuvre of Martin Heidegger (see 1971; 1977), Rose asks, "How do mortals creatively enrol (through techne) and thus participate in the world in which it is gathered?" and answers that "Dasein builds in order to make a claim--a claim that marks out something that is 'its own' in the midst of the unrelenting movement of the fourfold" (page 769).

Other scholars have utilized the ideas of Heidegger to explore theoretical themes in geography (Casey, 1993; 2001; Elden, 2001; 2005; Malpas, 2006; 2008; Seamon, 1979; Wylie, 2012). Rose's (2012) approach appeals because it clearly prioritizes action and bodily activity (as the means of marking and claiming, through the concept of techne) and because it offers two succinct conceptual tools with which to approach empirical material. Also, through the concept of claiming as read through the idea of the fourfold, Rose (2012) leaves room for questions regarding how we attempt to mark a world that is not of our own making and, importantly, about the differing abilities of residential dwellers to stake their ground in a world that is never fully their own.

Further, Rose (2012) offers a way of approaching the empirical realities of the dwelling experience consistent with a particular theoretical heritage (Dewsbury et al, 2002; Harrison, 2000; 2007a; Rose, 2006; 2010; see Cresswell, 2012) that makes several deeply appealing conceptual arguments as well as being congruous with the empirical examinations involved in the case studies examined here. …

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