Landscapes and Learning: Place Studies for a Global World
1 Jan 2009
Margaret A Somerville
Places are made after their stories. Just as place names describe complex, and conflicted, place-making aspirations, so with all marks associated with the marking of places: tracks, the symbolic representation of these in song, dance and poetic speech, indeed all the technologies that join up distances into narratives - they all inscribe the earth's surface with the forms of stories. Of course, these are not the same as the foundational myths of imperial cultures, whose aim is to displace any prior discourse of place-making. They are stories of, and as, journeys: passages in a double sense, constitutionally incomplete because they always await their completion in the act of crossing-over, or meeting, which, of course, is endless. (Paul Carter, Chapter 1) 'Landscapes and Learning' maps some of these stories and passageways to open up new place making possibilities. The book uses the lens of place to explore how we can respond differently to some of the major questions of our time. Postcolonial global concerns such as increased displacement and migration, the loss of indigenous knowledges, and the imperatives of environmental degradation and climate change, require critical educational responses. Place studies provides new languages and fresh metaphors to open up interdisciplinary conversations in the space between local and global, and indigenous and non-indigenous knowledges. Through its focus on the mutual constitution of bodies, identities, histories, spaces and places, place studies offers a conceptual tool for important cultural and environmental transformations.