Week 8\Place vs. Non-Place\Marian Portugal

Week 8’s topic of Space made me really think about the physical aspects of my everyday life.  Everything takes up space:  the home I live in, all of my belongings, the air I breathe, etc.  Of course I was aware of this, but then I started wondering how important all of these aspects of my life are, and if the space they take up is really worth it.  In other words, I questioned whether or not something else was more important that it should replace something else already there. 

Marc Agué’s concept of Place/Non-place increased my curiosity about these facets of my life, except at a higher level.  Instead of objects, I began thinking about actual places.  After researching and reading about Agué’s work, I wondered what draws the line between a place and a non-place.  According to Agué, ‘If place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which can not be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place.’  Some examples that Agué defined as non-places include airports, motorways, large supermarkets, and passenger transit lounges.  His rationality is that as advancements in technology continue, things are moving faster.  Instead of having to drive to certain areas, we can take a bullet train or fly there.  Instead of having to withdraw money directly from the bank, we now have credit cards, debit cards, ATM’s, and pin numbers.  All of these result in an excess of time and space.  This excess time and space, therefore, results in and cause non-places, where temporary space for passage, communication, and consumption occur. 

What if, however, a certain location has no relational, historical, or identity concern on the societal level, but does at the individual level?  Does that make a difference in whether something is a place or non-place?  For example, what if someone reunites with his or her long lost father for the first time at an airport?  That definitely counts as being concerned with identity on the personal level, so does that change that airport to a place?

What about the opposite situation like historical places like the Grand Canyon for example?  If someone has never been there or heard of this place, then it does not make any difference in his or her life and has no impact on who they are.  So, is it a non-place?

This is where I found a possible flaw in Augé’s concept.  I think his definition of a non-place was too vague, in which he did not specify if it applies to his opinion, society’s general view, or an individual’s view of a certain area will define a place from a non-place.  Everyone is different, with different views, beliefs, values, and experiences.  Because of this, someone can consider something as a place while someone else will say it’s a non-place. 

Finally, I want to explore what our world would be like if everyone had the same definitions of places and non-places, and if these non-places did not exist.  How much free space would result?  I think that this can potentially show how advanced our world’s technology is and how excessive our time and space has become, in which we no longer feel any importance or respect to relational, historical, or identity concern.



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