Academic journal article New Formations

Emotion, Place and Culture

Academic journal article New Formations

Emotion, Place and Culture

Article excerpt

Mick Smith, Joyce Davidson, Laura Cameron, Liz Bondi (eds), Emotion, Place and Culture, Farnham, Ashgate, 2009; 318pp, £60 hardback.

'The fact that emotions are not easily located, defined, or measured should not be allowed to detract from their crucial importance to human ... geographies and lives' (3). Whilst emotions are present all the time, they tend to have formed the background rather than the focus in place studies. Emotion, Place and Culture foregrounds emotions and our embodied experiences in this collection of sixteen essays. The book is divided into five key themes: Remembering, Understanding, Mourning, Belonging, and Enchanting. Along with reinstating earlier phenomenological approaches, there is also a claim that 'emotional geographies will... not just extend the remit of current geographical research, they will reveal something lacking at the centre of geography... they will recompose it in terms of emotionally as well as socio-historically, situated theories' (5). It is these dieories which are the framework for many of the essays in the collection. The major critical theories in emotional geography are non-representational, feminist, psycho-analytical and phenomenological geographies. All these approaches move away from the Cartesian distinction between body and mind, in which thought and representation are foregrounded and emotions are situated in a no-man's land.

Fundamentally, phenomenologist, feminist, psycho-analytic and nonrepresentational geographers recognise that emotions are what make geography important. It is our relationship with place that creates geography. Phenomenologists focus on what is experienced radier tiian upon what the experiences are supposed to represent, feminist geographers focus on the gendering of emotions and space, and the psychoanalytical theorists show the interaction of the individual with space. Non-representational theory (NRT) is concerned with the necessary incompleteness in the act of representation itself. NRT highlights the ineffable and the ways in which affect relates to the more immediate embodied engagements with the world beyond language. …

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