The concept of place for Geography

The word place has several meanings , which vary according to the perspective or area adopted.

Polysemic in character, that is, with many meanings, the term has been interpreted in multiple fields of knowledge.

One of the first definitions was made by Aristotle , in his Physics work, when he designated place as the limit of the body.

A few centuries later, Descartes tried to deepen Aristotle’s concept by claiming that the place could also be designated by referring to opposition between other bodies. In addition, La Blache and Sauer used it in a not very detailed way and to relate the region.

The concept of place for Geography

Despite having been used previously, it was only with  Humanist Geography , after the 1970s, that the place came to be seen as a key concept .

In this perspective, like the other concepts, the place had to face changes over time, through the susceptible geographic theoretical currents.

At first, it had been used as a locational reference and, later, it became contextualized as a category of essential analysis of the discipline.

This happened through the development of studies in Humanist Geography, in which the authors have a more detailed view of the subject’s relations with the place, permeated by everyday experiences.

The word place

The meaning of the word place in geography can be totally linked to its etymology.

Originating in the Latin term locális , locus, the term means occupied space, location and position. In addition, it can represent town, city, region and country. It can also refer to opportunity, opportunity and time.

However, the place is analyzed as the locus of the subject who builds it, constituting it when relating to the world and the social collective.

There is also the care of critical geography in the incorporation of the place and the subject in the globalized world.

The place as a lived experience

Edward Relph, David Lowenthal, Yi-Fu Tuan and Anne Buttimer are authors of the humanist trend.

Humanist authors outline the place, in a phenomenological attitude, as a concept that is intimate with the experience lived in space, that is, it would be the result of the subjective factors of the individual lived through a material basis and the relationship with other subjects.

The space would be a more abstract concept and the place would have concrete value. In this way, the more you live in a place, the greater the experience and attachment. In summary, experience shapes places.

The place in the global world

Another trend in geography is criticism. Among its main exponents, today, are the British geographers David Harvey and Doreen Massey. In Brazil, the main representative figure is the geographer Milton Santos.

Receiving influences from globalization, the analyzes permeate the relationship between the local / global.

These authors envision an alternative analysis, which verifies places like us in global social, economic and political interactions.


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