Identity: a geographical perspective Deborah Sporton, Dept. of Geography, University of Sheffield. D.Sporton@sheffield.ac.uk & Gill Valentine, School of Geography, University of Leeds G.Valentine@leeds.ac.uk
Narrative Approach to Identity • We are located within narratives not of our own making (e.g. ‘child’, ‘asylum seeker’) • We choose to construct narratives of the self that draw on particular interpretative repertoires (recast available narratives, ‘fateful moments’ etc.) • Not in a vacuum: space and place matter!
Identities are spatially constituted Identities are actively accomplished in/through geographical sites: • Specific identity practices at home, school & community Socio-spatial tensions: • Negotiate competing definitions of ‘identity’ from these sites and wider society e.g. ‘adult’ at home v child at school e.g. Somali community identity v achievement at school
Geographical Imagination • Identities depend constitutively on difference: self/other (Said) • Understandings of self & other are shaped through mobility ‘To travel can consist in operating a profoundly unsettling inversion of one’s identity: I become me via an other…Travelling allows one to see things differently from what they are, differently from how one has seen them and differently from what one is…’Trinh Min-ha 1994: 23)’. • Awareness of and attachment to place: ‘home’, tensions between different cultural values. • Global-local • Insular or a progressive sense of place (Massey)
Implications for other projects Role of space and place in identity formation? • Specific sites in/through which identity accomplished • Socio-spatial tensions in (dis) identification processes • Geographical imagination: relational nature of identity formation • Local-global • Sense of place