Initial thoughts/quotes/reactions: Rich Schein’s “Belonging through land/scape” (p. 811-818)

by hlegris

As promised, I’m writing some informal notes/thoughts/quotes that come forward when I read Rich Schein’s “Belonging through land/scape” – this is totally informal, but maybe it will help some of you move through the text and beyond (or around) the jargon. The jargon matters, and is totally a part of this academic conversation, but we’ll get to some of it later in the course.  These are the kinds of notes I would write to myself about this article, but this is only the first 7 pages or so. I hope to continue with my notes over the rest of the article but this is a beginning so take some time to look over it for now and compare with your notes/thoughts.  The really place-specific stuff comes in the second half, but this beginning part is a theoretical/historical setup for the rest of his discussion.

-Key points to recognize in the introduction: “race, belonging, land, and landscape”  and those citizens “written out of ‘belonging’…through land and landscape” in addition to the recognition of “belonging-as-social-justice…in response to dominant social, political, economic, and cultural practices” (811).

-How have African Americans been “categorically denied citizenship and community, or the right to claim belonging” through the practices of the shaping and designating of land and landscape in central Kentucky ? Land and landscape as “stages” for practicing “citizenship and community” (811).

-Space and power relations, the concept of belonging, the possibility for (re)appropriation of space as a place for liberation but with unclear boundaries or ways to find that freedom…Rose’s concept of ‘paradoxical space’, connecting “landscapes and a sense of self and belonging…new identities can emerge in the liminal space produced in the tension between belonging and exclusion” (812). Landscapes have ghosts, histories, are narrowly constructed…are narrative constructs –“‘they would not exist as places were it not for the stories told about and through them'” (812). Storytelling as key to self, identity, community, belonging.  What stories are untold? What voices are silenced? Stories as about “the future as they are about the past” — where do the past and future collide and how are they inextricably linked? (813).

“dessentialized individual” – with a sense of belonging that is fluid, changeable, multiple, shifting and moving against set categories of belonging as set by societal constructs (class, gender, race, ethnicity…) “belonging implicates and inside and an outside” – and “…what happens when someone else does not want you to belong” plays into the dynamic of selfhood, community, belonging, history that reverberates in and through landscapes – which is connected to power-relations (813). Can one define one’s self or is one always defined by others/structures?

Jones: tensions between “worlds and selves” (814) – points of oppositions to rules, norms, history, regulations occurs through what Jones calls ‘cracks in the mortar’ which “challenge the seemingly essential and fixed…foundations of everyday life” (814).

The geography of the city, in part, defines citizenship, but citizenship can be redrawn and renegotiated over time, in everyday spaces, with different points of resistance to a given norm/practice/expectation. ‘Landscape’ represents the idea of ‘cultural landscape’ – not just physical landscape- and cultural landscapes “articulate, mediate, (re)produce, and provide the grounds to challenge everyday life…” (815).

Land and Belonging

What do we associate with the idea of private property in America?

self control, belonging, responsibility, financial standing…

Property and the “structural legacies” of slavery – which connects to resources, social justice, ownership, access to the American dream – all of which are tied up with daily life, interactions, and transactions. How do such landscapes (cultural &/or physical) redress or support such a legacy? (815)

-deed tracing exercise (see text, 816) – the ‘crack in the mortar’ is that slaves could own property though means that were not state-sanctioned, approved, or recognized, and also connected to family, kinship, heritage, inheritance and other ties of identity and belonging that are, at times, separate from the state (816).

-discussion of the legacy of “transition from farm to town” for African Americans – and the property and race relations therein, and how an urban landscape changes identity, possibility, and spaces for belonging. How is the history of the farm and the history of the town different in relation to racial identity? (817)

-statistics and housing standards (negative) around Bracktown, the legacy and culture of historic preservation and how it connects to the African-American community and property, how recording (or not recording) property exchange matters to a legacy and history of race – how property may have changed hands informally, how this is a point of power and resistance connected to informal economies, verbal contracts, social networks, family, identity outside of an contra exclusionary white systems of government and power (818).