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5.4 Mapping lived environment

People make places. By modifying ones environment one creates a place--a significant part of space. According to Heidegger (1971: 152-155), spaces receive their being from places. Heidegger's example is a bridge. A bridge constructed over a stream gathers the earth and landscape around it. Therefore, it constitutes a place. On the other hand, place is connected to other places through space, and it is through these places that space becomes into existence. This is what Anne Stenros calls the topological character of places and spaces. Place is topological since like a bridge it always connects the elements around it. Space is topological, too, since it is a system of places. Space connects places (Stenros 1992: 95; 1997: 17-18).

Ingrid Leman Stefanovic (1998) tries to illuminate some essential aspects of the evolution of sense of place by beginning with Heidegger's concept of 'being-at-home'. She conducts a study of two distinct places which are Cavtat, an old town in Croatia, and Mississauga, a suburban development in Ontario. Stefanovic identifies six themes of both her places that she finds essential to the sense of place. In both communities, themes of 'clear centre', 'privacy and enclosure' and 'reflection of time' arouse in one way or another. Having clear centre is certainly one of the most important aspects of placeness. Heidegger's example is a bridge but it can be a central square, a tower with with nodal location, or a combination of them that makes place.

The most significant place in one's world is one's home. It is 'our corner of the world' (notre coin du monde; Bachelard 1957 cit. Di Méo 1998: 97). This dialectic between home and the world is the elementary structure of human territoriality. Hence home is the place, and world is the limitless space around it (Di Méo 1998: 107).

Guy Di Méo (1991; 1998) introduces a method of sociospatial metastructure in order to study human territoriality. It is based on the hierarchy of different spatial concepts. The most basic ones of them are practiced and perceived spaces that together constitute 'life-space' (espace de vie). This combined with social space and the space of imagination and conceptualisation constitutes 'lived space' (espace vécu; Di Méo 1991: 123-125). The first one is the concrete everyday world while the latter one, according to Armand Frémont (1974/1999: 249) who has introduced the concept to geography, is the opposite of the space of alienation. It is a space where one belongs to: a region.

Sociospatial metastructure, on the hand, is the structural form of represented space (espace représenté). To form it one has to add the structural relations of places to lived space. These are, according to Di Méo (1991: 124, 127), economical, ideological, and politico-administrative relations. In addition, one has to take into account different spatial levels of sociospatial formation which are local, regional, and national.

The setting of Di Méo is close to that of Henri Lefebvre, and his theory on the 'production of space'. There are some categorical difficulties in this kind of theorising. For instance, as pointed out by Tim Unwin (2000: 22), there is a categorical difference between 'the production of space' and, for instance, 'the production of human misery'. While concentrating on the first one draws attention to an intellectual conceptualisation, and therefore looses touch of the lived experience of humanity. Therefore this so-called critical theory lies outside the interests of this study.

If looking for 'an epistemological tool that would successfully mediate between art and science, lived and conceptual realities'--as Bunkse (1990: 98) does--Di Méo's sociospatial metastructure is not really an answer. It fails because it stays in those areas of the humanities that are close to social sciences, a failure of most humanistically oriented geography as pointed out by D.W. Meinig (1983 cit. Bunkse 1990: 98). What is needed instead is to go inside the humanities and do research on its own terms.

Di Méo approaches Bunkse's proposal by introducing the sociospatial metastructure of Marius Champailler, a wine farmer from central France (Charpigny et al. 1983, cit. Di Méo 1991: 135-142). He presents a map where the lived space and the outlying objectified space of Champailler are shown. It begins with the individual experience of a wine farmer but is, however, interpreted with superimposed structural categories. This makes the initially existential approach to understand one's lived world to transform into a detached presentation of spatial attributes.

Detachedness is problem also in the cognitive mapping of in behaviourally oriented studies. In psychology, for instance, the phenomenon of 'place attachment' is often approached by studying different kind of 'actors' contributing to it. Setha M. Low and Irwin Altman (1992: 4) argue (but do not argumentate) that it is compatible with, for instance, phenomenological approaches. Taken the fundamental differences of phenomenological and psychological theories this seems highly implausible.

Mapping places is mapping things that have significance. Richard Dey (1995) says that 'a map's main attraction is what it leaves to the imagination, for the explorer to fill in'. But, on the contrary, how does one map imagination? Should that not be a concern of a geographer? John K. Wright writes about his summer place in Maine:

You geographers know nothing about it except what you could reasonably infer from your general familiarity with the region where it lies. You might infer something about it's climate, and you could draw some conclusions as to what it is not [--]. If, therefore, terra incognita be conceived as an area within which no observed facts are on record in scientific litterature or on maps, the interior of my place in Maine, no less than the interior of Antarctica, is a terra incognita [--]. [H]ence, if there is no terra incognita today in an absolute sense, so also no terra is absolutely cognita (Wright 1947: 3-4, his italics).
Wright (1947: 15) concludes his paper with often-cited words: '[F]or, perhaps, the most fascinating terrae incognitae of all are those that lie within the minds and hearts of men.' To map these terrae incognitae one has to combine Di Méo's (1991; 1998) mapping of lived space to Saint-Exupéry's geography lesson: mapping of individual sensory as well as pragmatic and poetic encounters with one's environment (see Bunkse 1990: 97).

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