chapter  6
27 Pages

Imagining places

While Chapte rs 3, 4 and 5 concentrated primar ily on the encounter between individua ls and their surroundings (via behavioural and humanistic ideas about place), this chapter will focus mainly on collective understandings or imaginings of place. In doing so, the notion that we understand places through socially constructed mythologies (or myths) will be foregrou nded. In this context , myths will be defined as those powerful 'stories' which shape our physical (bodily) and imaginative journeys into both familiar and unfamiliar places and spaces. While it is important to note that these spatial mythologies are not universally shared (that is, different people have different sets of beliefs and understandings abo ut places and spaces), we want to show that the existence of certain mythologies in particular socia l co ntexts is fundame ntal in shaping peopl e's attitudes to particular types of place. A centr al idea that we will explore is that these myths are relationa l, sett ing the characteristics of one place (or region) against another so that one is imagined as a cent re, the other as a periphery. Consequently some places are associated with wea lth, style and sophistication, while others becom e imagined as sites of despondency, poverty and backwardn ess. In turn, the people who are imagined to live and work in such different environments also become imagined in terms of these opposed notions of centrality/peripherality (which translate into ideas abou t their social status) .