Place attachment and mobile place making: Cases from Santiago de Chile and Mexico City

Date and time
Monday 2nd June 2008
6 for 6.15 pm

Graham Wallace Room, A550, Old Building, LSE

Place attachment and mobile place making: Cases from Santiago de Chile and Mexico City

Paola Jiron and Iliana Ortega (LSE)

In light of the current globalisation process, some believe that spaces lose their distinctiveness and become subdued and unified, making place lose its significance and its characteristics are emptied and abstracted; others insist that place persists as a constituent element of social life and historical change (Gieryn 2000; Cresswell 2001; Sheller and Urry 2006). According to Savage et al (2005), place-making is still relevant today, however, the process of place making in contemporary cities is complex. Massey has argued that if social organisation of space is changing and disrupting the existing ideas about place, then the concept of place should be rethought altogether (Massey 1994; Massey 1995) and move towards understanding it as the location of particular sets of intersecting social relations and intersecting activity spaces (Massey 1995) in time. This presentation attempts to move further in this re-conceptualisation.


First, Paola Jiron will introduce the idea of mobile place making within the practices of urban daily mobility by using ethnographic work in Santiago de Chile. It explains how those spaces encountered in mobility like buses, metros or cars become mobile places; and those spaces people signify while moving about, along or through like street markets or a mall become transient places. Both types of places involve the appropriation of space for reflection, contemplation, socialisation, friendship, intimacy, independence, distraction or evasion or recreation, but only momentarily, making them events of places.


Secondly, grounded on ethnographic research in the consolidated periphery of Mexico City, Iliana Ortega-Alcazar will examine an example of contemporary place-making in relation to a fixed place. She will show how, in the context of popular urbanisation, attachment to place does not result from long term family association with place nor from choosing a place for aesthetic/ moral reasons as the existing literature suggests. Instead, place attachment results from the production of place as a symbolic resource and from people’s active and productive engagement with space.