Staeheli in J. Agnew et al., eds (2003) distinguishes five conceptualizations of place: place as physical location or site, place as a cultural and/or social location, place as context, place as constructed over time, and place as a social process. ‘If we make space through interaction at all levels…then those spatial identities such as places, regions, nations, and the local and the global must be forged in this way, too, as internally complex, essentially unboundable in any absolute sense, and, inevitably, historically changing’ (Massey (2004) Geografiska B 86, 1). H. Raffles (2002) understands places as ‘spatial moments [that] come into being and continue being made at the meeting points of history, representation, and material practice’.
‘A national ideology about women's place…is filtered through geographical differentiation at the local level’ (McDowell (2003) TIBG28, 1). The world's cultural geography can be viewed as a ‘mosaic’ (Crang et al. (2003) PHG27). See also Nijman (2007) Tijdschrift 9, 2. Waterman (1998) TIBG23 comments on the relationships between the art produced at a specific place and the place itself: ‘place becomes a metaphor for social trends.’ Castree (2004) Pol. Geog. 23, 2 has a different take: ‘it is useful to reflect on what is lost when we are encouraged to see place-bound movements as tendentially “regressive”; trans-local organising as largely “progressive” (not to mention pragmatically necessary); and an openness to other peoples and places as the mark of a proper (sic) place politics.’ A relational reading of place works with the ontology of flow, connectivity, and multiple geographical expression, to imagine the geographies of cities and regions through their plural spatial connections (Amin (2004) Geografiska B 84, 1). Martin (2003) AAAG93, 3 argues that place frames—the physical conditions of the neighbourhood and the daily life experiences of its residents—are used to unite residents for collective action.
Within physical geography, there remain many possibilities that are determined by local, specific, factors linked to particular places and times—that is, by contingencies (Phillips (2007) Geomorph. 84, 3–4). Contingencies are not necessarily complications that can eventually be described by general laws. They may be irreducibly place dependent, and as important as, or even more important than, general laws in determining how the world works (Phillips (2004) Prof. Geogr. 56, 1).
Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography.