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3.5 Realms of place

Studying how people perceive places is not a subject of geographical inquiry but that of psychology. On the other hand, studying places as perceived by people is a geographical subject. The difference between these two approaches is delicate but meaningful. When the subject of inquiry is changed from perception to place, the perception itself is not excluded from the study but it has to be attached to its context: to the qualities of place. J. Nicholas Entrikin (1991: 6-7) calls the external context in which people act 'the naturalistic qualities of place'. Entrikin finds places also as centres of human meanings, and these meanings are what he calls 'the existential qualities of place'.

The basic difference in studying the naturalistic or the existential qualities of place is viewpoint--not the a way that a particular viewpoint is chosen but in a more fundamental way: is a viewpoint chosen at all, or not? The latter is the method of Casati and Varzi (1999): they examine place without any concepts involving a point of view. This could be called the naturalistic way of studying places in its strictest sense. The stance of Casey (1993) is an example of the existential one. He involves 'body' in the study of place thus introducing a subjective element with a viewpoint.

One could ask if the project of Casati and Varzi is possible. There is always someone who performs the study, so there is always a viewpoint. Casati and Varzi say that of all modes of spatial representation, maps are the ones that are most detached. They do not insist that even maps were absolutely detached. Maps display no perspective effects like photographs, for instance, because they do not contain the additional information produced by the viewpoint of camera (Casati & Varzi 1999: 187). Nevertheless, maps are made by someone. The purpose of Casati and Varzi is, however, to map mereotopological items. In this highly formal context it is indeed hard to see how ethnicity, sex, or personality of the cartographer could be visible in the maps to any considerable extent. On the other hand, it is almost equally hard to imagine the relevance of mereotopological mapping in geographical studies.

Thus, it seems evident that there is a methodological continuum that reaches from detached naturalistic methodology to personal life-worlds of existential methodology. The actual methodologies are always somewhere in-between but their emphasis can be on either ends of the continuum.

Hence, to study Roseau as a place it is necessary to study both the naturalistic and the existential realms of place. This study is therefore divided into two analytic parts. In Part II the naturalistic realm of Roseau is studied. The underlying question there is:

(3) What constitutes Roseau?
My viewpoint in naturalistic analysis is detached outsideness. As it is impossible to perform a geographical study with mere mereotopological means I have to adopt a less rigourous methodology. What is meant here by outsideness is the external approach to place. It is a bird's-eye-view, or the viewpoint of a cartographer.

Part III will deal with the existential realm of Roseau. In this part the viewpoint is insideness: one is bodily present in the place. The question I ask is:

(4) How is Roseau perceived by people?
To sum up, studying naturalistic qualities of place is to study place in its landscapeness. On the other hand, studying existential qualities of place is to study it in its placeness. To create a coherent ensemble both the realms of naturalistic and existential qualities are needed.

In Part IV, I make a synthesis of Parts II and III to answer the most fundamental question of this study, Question (1), and create an approach to what kind of place Roseau might be.

I use the term 'realm' instead of 'qualities' used by Entrikin (1991). I find that using a singular term instead of a plural one gives more intrinsic coherence to both sides of the concept of 'place'. Naturalistic and existential 'qualities' need each other to construct a coherent ensemble, while naturalistic and existential 'realms' are entities of their own. This division is, however, only methodological, and does not suggest any ontological presumptions. It is used here to help me in studying these two sides of place as they were separate from each other--before making a synthesis of them. Another reason for the terminology is that while using Entrikin's division rather as a commencing idea of my study than as a guideline for conducting it, I prefer using different terms in order to avoid confusion between the manners how I use the concepts and how Entrikin uses them.



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