A part of each focus group’s short transcription

After we decided who will do what in our presentation, I was in charge of transcribing the answers given by the 9 participants to the section ‘space, place and topophilia’ of the questionary. This is a short version of my notes.

Focus group 1: 

SPACE/ PLACE 

=> people from the first focus group lived in London for 2 to 4 years, not born and raised in London

=> 2 people (bus and tube) out of 6 did not feel a positive emotional attachment to London (not sure)

=> cyclist felt like his mode of transport played a role in his emotional attachment to London because he loves cycling throughout London and loves the feeling of flowing and riding through traffic in London and loves knowing where he goes when cycling in London so this pleasures that he feels makes him having a positive emotional attachment to London because it is where he does something that he likes

=> bus: more emotional attachment to the people in London than to London => no ling with geography for him, still link with emotional attachment is negative because for him the public transports are frustrating, bus creates a negative feeling towards London because it is a city where you have to take public transport and that it is not something that he likes, rather live in a city where you do not have to use public transport

=> one tube said that sometimes if she is in a carriage listening to her music (emotional) and that she realizes that she is in London and that it is her city that she is happy to be in it, her  mode of movement plays a role because it is where she realizes that she is in London and happy about it => maybe it does not impact the emotional attachment or creates it but maybe it makes the person realize

=> tube: idea that it is such a big international city where many people are here for business that it does not really belong to anyone

=> tube and bus: combination => you know some parts so more connexion, some others are just completely ‘alien’ => you go there one time for a reason and never go back

=> place when you have an emotional attachment => cycling brings a different perspective because you discover, better knowledge it is not just popping out at a station, you experience the journey so more connexion with it

=> cycle:  idea of the borders of London popped up, interesting thing because even London as a space is quite contested, living in London does not mean anything in a way because of how big it is

=> for one cyclist => think of London as his home but at the same time he does not think of every part of London as his home, does not include West London for example

Focus group 2: 

SPACE/PLACE 

=> 1 person living in London for 2 1/2, 1 for 3 years and one for 21years

=> one bus person does not have an emotional attachment to London, very ready to leave, never saw it as a home even if it is an enjoyable city full of opportunities, it is very overwhelming => negative emotional attachment because it is hard to live there, hard not to be isolated

=> one tube => very ready to go home => negative emotional attachment, affected by the fact there is no sun

=> one cyclist => feels a positive emotional attachment to London when he bikes around the city at night especially => make him feel better when he felt down

=> one bus and tube => feel trapped in bus or tube so creates a negative perception and negative emotional attachment BUT at the same time when need to feel better goes to Trafalgar Square or museum that she feels good in (find the place peaceful) so they are spaces (which become places) that she feels good in so thatch feels a positive emotional attachment to BUT she also avoids a mode of transport when she wants to feel good so transports in London creates an emotional attachment that is negative

=> bus => finds that London is a combination of spaces and places, where she has memories of her shows, where she shared things with her friends

=> cycling => places in areas that he knows => feeling of place is attached to knowledge and experience

=> tube => place are areas where she goes a lot, where she has a lot of good memories => feeling of place linked with frequency and experience, feelings

=> bus => says that a route feels like a place, not the bus that is a place BUT the bus routes because she has memories and emotional attachment to this route that she takes or took for months

Readings following the two focus groups (on the space /place dichotomy)

Following the two focus groups, I decided to continue my readings on the space/place dichotomy to have an even more precise knowledge on the subject. This will be even more useful as I think that it will constitute my part of the presentation (as most of my readings were on this subject this is the area within our topic that I feel l the most comfortable with). I will here summarize the two texts that I read.

Michael Goodchild, Linna Li. ‘Formalizing space and place’, Fonder les sciences du territoire, Nov 2011, pp.177-183. 

=>  Space, or the spatial perspective, is generally held to refer to the surface and near-surface of the Earth, as organized by coordinate systems such as latitude and longitude, and to concepts such as distance and direction that are measurable or computable within that space.

=> Defined in this way, space has strong connotations of science and its aims of rigor and replicability.

=> Place, on the other hand, is normally defined as a social construction.

=> A place is a named domain that can occur in human discourse (by contrast, references to latitude and longitude in human discourse are of course extremely rare).

=> Places may be persistent through time, or transient and related to specific events. They may be poorly defined, with indeterminate boundaries that make it difficult to determine whether a given spatial location is or is not within a named place.

=> While it lacks an exact English equivalent, the French term ‘territoire’ has elements of both space and place, as well as more abstract concepts such as landscape.

=> Recently => emergence of space as a common, integrating theme in the social sciences and humanities.

John Agnew, Chapter 23 ‘Space and Place’ in J. Agnew and D. Livingstone (University of California, Los Angeles) London: Sage. 2011

=> Space is regarded largely as a dimension within which matter is located or a grid within which substantive items are contained.

=> Place = geographic meaning as “a portion of space in which people dwell together” and “locality”

=> ALSO = place is a “rank” in a list (as “in the first place”), a temporal ordering (as in something “took place”), and a “position” in a social order (as in “knowing your place”)

=> In the simplest sense, place refers to either a location somewhere or to the occupation of that location => first sense is of having an address and the second is about living at that address

=> Particularly powerful has been the idea derived from late-nineteenth century social thought that, in social terms at least, place equates to a collectivist traditional community and that as modern national (and global) society has inevitably eclipsed community so has place lost its significance

Group meeting with Conor 12/02

During this group meeting with Conor, we discussed the ethics form that Katie submitted a few days earlier. We asked ourselves if we will do questionaries, interviews/focus groups or both but also how many people will be interrogated as these precisions were asked for the form to be validated (it has been approved since!). Conor suggested the idea of elite interviews (people who are considered experts in their field). He also suggested the idea of doing two or three focus groups with around 10 people in each group to discuss the different transports that each of them uses and how they experience them. Focus groups will create discussions and maybe debates which could be very useful and interesting for the study case. The idea of online questionaries also came up, it appeared useful mostly to have a larger number of people interrogated (around 100). As we will be interrogating only students, we realized that we will have to include this in the title/question of our presentation for it to be more accurate. Conor also gave us tips from a presentation that he made as an undergraduate. He told us not to forget to ask every person interrogated if they filled the consent form and remind them that they will be recorded. He also indicated that it was useful to contextualize the project to the people who are part of the study before asking the first question, without influencing them, to have more precise and interesting answers. Then, we discussed the temporal dimension of transports. Indeed, time is, like space, experienced differently according to the mode of transport used. Finally, we decided that each of us will do a couple of readings to establish a precise question for the study case by the end of the week. It seems necessary to establish it before the beginning of the interviews to be sure that people give answers that will be useful to the project. To start writing the questionaries/interviews questions and to create the research question (and its subsections), we decided to meet with the girls tomorrow (15/02). We will use the notes from the different readings that each of us did to establish this question on theoretical and serious grounds.

FOLLOWING MEETING WEEK 4 (5/02) 

During week 4, we completely changed our subject and decided to study London and how the transports that you use shape the understanding that you have of the city. After meetings with Conor and Sophie, who made some very interesting comments and suggestions on our project, I made some readings. One is on the London underground and the other is on the feeling of belonging in a ‘place’.

Underground, Overground: A Passenger’s History of the Tube

Andrew Martin

  • London Underground is the oldest Metro in the world
  • it has 250 miles of track and 287 stations
  • 1.1 billion passenger journeys are made on the Underground every year
  • London Underground was never properly planned but just sort of sprawled, and because it was built over the course of 140 years, it is far more revealing of the history and character of the city it serves than any of the above systems
  • Frank Pick: one of the two most important men in the twentieth century Underground
  • he used the Underground to rationalize a city he’d found confusing on boyhood visits from the north
  • Frank Pick introduced the diagrammatic Underground map => defined as a comfort blanket for Londoners
  • reassures them that their city makes sense
  • even though in fact it doesn’t, precisely because of the expansion caused by the system that the map depicts
  • Frank Pick failed in his mission to rationalize London
  • because he promoted the expansion of the Underground which caused the expansion of the city

Place A Short Introduction. Tim Cresswell

2013 

  • they are all spaces people are attached to in one way or another => this is the most straightforward and common definition of place = a meaningful location
  • political geographer John Agnew (1987) has outlined three fundamental aspects of place as a ‘meaningful location’: Location. Locale. Sense of place
  • commonplace in Western societies in the Twenty-first Century that people feel a loss of a sense of place as they argue that the forces of globalization have eroded local cultures and produced homogenized global spaces
  • advertisement for a large furniture shop => ‘Transforming space into place.’
  • the ad suggests that we might want to take the rooms we have recently bought or rented and make them mean something to us by arranging furniture in them = making them comfortable literally and experientially
  • humanistic geographers are unlikely to agree that the mere purchase of furniture is going to enact such a transformation but they will recognize the intent = making a space yours to make it become a place
  • asks the question of how to make a space yours? How can the city of London go from ‘a space’ to ‘a place’?
  • what begins as undifferentiated space becomes place as we get to know it better and endow it with value
  • space, then, has been seen in distinction to place as a realm without meaning
  • when humans invest meaning in a portion of space and then become attached to it in some way it becomes a place
  • this basic dualism of space and place runs through much of human geography since the 1970s

FOLLOWING GROUP MEETING 3 with Conor (29/01)

As we think that our research project might be linked to the climate refugee crisis, I started by making a couple of very general readings on the subject to be more familiar with its main challenges. I will here summarize the pieces of information that I gathered from two articles.

1st article: https://www.unhcr.org/climate-change-and-disasters.html

  • 2015 article from the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) website
  • gives general information and illustrates the climate refugee crisis => mostly numbers and pictures
  • since 2008 around 22.5 million people have been displaced by climate- or weather-related events
  • examples of climatic disasters = droughts in Somalia in 2011 and 2012, floods in Pakistan between 2010 and 2012, and the earthquake in Nepal in 2015
  • role of the UNHCR is to support climate refugees who most of the time do not meet the ‘refugee’ definition
  • consequently most of the time they are not welcomed in receiving countries as they can not obtain a legal status of ‘refugee’
  •  UNHCR supports climate refugees in different ways => ‘registration, documentation, family reunification and the provision of shelter, basic hygiene and nutrition’
  • the article is also showing some pictures of people leaving their homes because of climatic disasters and how they try to reconstruct their lives elsewhere

2nd article: https://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/monde/les-refugies-climatiques-ces-oublies-du-droit-international_1302973.html

  • Newspaper article from an interview of François Gemenne => a specialist of environmental geopolitics
  • he is analyzing the situation of millions of ‘climate refugees’ from a legal point of view
  • he talks about the legal status of who have to leave their home because of climatic events
  • story of Ioane Teitiota who left his home because of issues caused by climate change => refugee status was refused to him and his family by New-Zealand’s government because he was not directly forced to leave Kiribati (his island of origin) like it happens during wars for example
  • they consider that he decided to leave it
  • legal refugee status was established by the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention
  • at the time climate change was not seen as an issue that will cause massive migrations like nowadays
  • THUS nothing was written about climate refugees => How to treat cases like this one if there is no legal ground?
  • this interview from 2013 asks the question of whether or not the legal status of climate refugees evolved in 6 years
  • If not, how countries are going to handle these massive flows of people? How will they treat their demands if there is no general rule?

FOLLOWING GROUP MEETING IN WEEK 2 (22/01) 

Following our first meeting, we established that our presentation will be a short text/story but we still do not know what the precise subject of this story will be (who is this character? why is he/she tormented? what happened in his/her life?). We decided that as Katie’s major is geography and mine is history, we will work together to define what will be the historical and geographical framework of our presentation. Thus, we tried to define the events that made this character leave his/her country not because he/she wanted to but because he/she had to. We discussed earlier this week with Katie of the topics we are interested in and concluded that we might do our presentation on migrations due to climate change OR on migrations due to the Syrian refugee crisis. I made a couple of readings on the Syrian refugee crisis that we might discuss tomorrow.

FOLLOWING INTRODUCTORY MEETING IN WEEK 1 (15/01)

PERSONAL REFLECTION – HISTORY MAJOR

Answering the following questions:

1. What are the connections between the four different approaches (geographical, philosophical,   classical and historical)?

2. What are the connections between the methods used in our different majors?

3. What resources will be used?

4. Where do you want to be in week 2,5,8,10?

5. What topics are you interested in studying? (find three)

  • Geography can play a huge role in the outcome of a historical event i.e in the Middle East conflicts
  • The historical context can explain the writings of some classical authors or the emergence of some philosophical movements.
  • Antiquity is one of the most studied periods of History.
  • Historical events are frequently responsible for geographical changes i.e invasions of the Roman Empire.

2.

  • Analysis of classical or philosophical work to understand the context of the period i.e primary sources help historians to analyze the atmosphere of the country and the reactions of its population.
  • Analysis of maps to understand more clearly events such as wars.
  • Analysis of statistics in geography, philosophy, and history.

3.

  • Articles
  • Books
  • Interviews
  • Reports
  • Statistics

4.

– Week 2: start to define the subject of our presentation and have an idea of the form that our presentation will take.

– Week 5: have a precise subject and several readings done by every member of the group.

– Week 8: have the almost finished version of our presentation (all the readings done and information found).

– Week 10: rehearse as a group to be confident and organized the day of the presentation.

5.

  • How and why language is constantly evolving?
  • Why are some conflicts fully publicized and other completely unreported?
  • How rap music went from marginalized to popular?