Analyzing a global sense of place by using cognitive maps: a study of Afghan immigrant women in Auckland

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Sense of place, according to the literature (Hummon, 1986; Lewicka, 2008; Proshansky et al., 1976; Raymond et al., 2010; Relph, 1976; 1997; Tuan, 1980; 1975), is the characteristic and meaning of a place derived from the experiences that people as individuals or within a group have in the place. Places are, therefore, spatial settings which gain specific characters from people’s experiences in a particular time. Places are conceived and sensed “in a chiaroscuro of setting, landscape, ritual, routine, other people, personal experiences, care and concern for home, and in the context of other places” (Relph, 1976, p.29). Globalization is widely argued as the process of economic, political and socio-cultural change since it has been associated with worldwide flows of migration and mobility (Berner, 1997; Castells, 1991; Massey & Jess, 2003 [1995]; Pile et al., 1999; Pries, 1999; Steger, 2003). Cities are not excluded from this global change. Their meanings and identities constantly change according to the different experiences of different people over time. This paper explores the meanings of places in the global city of Auckland according to everyday life experiences of Afghan immigrant women who live in Auckland. In order to discuss the meanings of different places for Afghan immigrant women in Auckland, firstly, I provide an overview of the meaning of everyday life experience in relation to the developing sense of place in the era of globalization. Then, along with offering a critique of the essentialist approach to the place and its meaning in the globalization era, this paper suggests cognitive mapping as a method to explore the meanings of the place in the global city. This paper discusses the findings of the fieldwork study that I undertook for my PhD research project in Auckland from 2014 and 2015. This fieldwork study was on eight Afghan immigrant women from two generations of immigration (1st and 1.5 generation) who live in Auckland. By focussing on cognitive maps which were drawn by these women, this paper, finally shows how these Afghan women conceive, perceive, use, and present different places in the global city of Auckland. As a concluding mark, I suggest that cognitive mapping can be applied as a method compatible with the fluidity of everyday life experiences of different groups of people, especially groups of minority, in the place of majority of global cities like Auckland.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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