Why Place Matters

24 Jul

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

To say that “place” matters is, to some extent, to swim against the principal currents of our times. The globalization of commerce, and the technologies of communication and transportation that have made globalization possible, make it so easy to move people and products, ideas and styles, that it sometimes seems as if the world is in fact becoming placeless. The tenuous and fungible nature of place in our times is as evident as the phone vibrating in our hands: when we answer, our first question to the caller is likely to be, “Where are you?” and the answer the caller gives us could plausibly be almost anyplace from Manhattan to Mumbai to the house next door. What more powerful evidence is there that place doesn’t matter anymore? Isn’t stressing the importance of place in our lives just a symptom of backward-looking nostalgia?

But place does still matter. Whether we like…

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