Place for Personhood (2010)

Hoey B A (2010) Place for Personhood: Individual and Local Character in Lifestyle Migration. City & Society 22(2) 237-261.

While drawing on the literature of narrative interpretations of the construction of self together with those that speak to place-based, embodied identity, this paper will explore the impact of invasive market forces on intertwined processes of person, self, and place-making. It considers how resources for these projects have changed in the face of translocal market forces and neoliberal ideals. Despite numerous proclamations of an essential placelessness to contemporary American society, place continues to be a basic, if unacknowledged, part of the construction of the person. In fact, a variety of place-making practices are increasingly pursued as ways of negotiating growing tension between personal experience with material demands in pursuit of a livelihood in the “flexible,” post-industrial economy and prevailing cultural conventions for the good life. These personal acts become the basis for defining self-identity within sustainable, moral narratives. This paper will discuss how a sense of place, understood as manifest in personal attachment to real and imagined elements of particularity in place, which individuals recognize and understand as “local character,” may support people in their ability to form lasting autobiographical accounts, expressions of individual “character” critical to personhood. Examining the notion of “property for personhood,” particularly with reference to the category of “home,” this paper offers a way of interpreting meaningful connections or attachments between the character of local place and individual character in the conduct of everyday life.

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