chapter  10
26 Pages

Place and Identity: The Life of Marie de l'Incarnation (1599-1672)

This paper argues the importance of place in understanding· the human experience. It contends, together with Malpas, Buttimer, Entrikin and a whole host of geographers, that place is integral to identity (Buttimer and Seamon 1980; Buttimer 1983; Entrikin 1991). Who you are, who I am, has everything to do with the places we have inhabited and inhabit now. In other places we would behave differendy, we would think: differendy and we would probably conceive of ourselves differendy. But place is no simple concept. It is not a matter of here or there or of Africa or Canada. If place is integral to identity so is identity integral to place. Place is a complex network of subjective experiences, objective projections, embodied limitations, social expectations, opportunities and forces, and physical forces. As Foucault, Malpas and many others have pointed out, the dichotomy between the world wholly within me and the world wholly outside me does not exist (Foucault 1978; 1979; Malpas 1999). Place and identity, then, are inseparable. If we wish to understand identity, then we must struggle to understand that complex network that is place. If we wish to understand place, then we must struggle to understand identity in all its complexity.