The living in a place for the dead - an exploration of place as assemblage

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi

Abstract: This thesis investigates how place can be understood through assemblage theory and what that implies for the understanding of human relation to place. The framework has been widely used outside and within human geography, at a few instances related to place. Exploring place as assemblage is done through a case study of S:t Pauli cemeteries in Malmö. Main methods are walk along interviews and observations to look at practices, borders, feelings and affect, religion and death, and relation to the city. Place through assemblage theory is understood as multiplicity and fluidity. It is a complex place where different elements, from visiting bodies to policy discussions, together create the place as it is. It has connections in both time and space. The assemblage of the cemeteries is found to have two important components in form of usage as park and burial site. Both usages are vital to the assemblage of the cemeteries, making it a living place and guiding the development of the cemeteries. The human relation to place is individual and comes from affects creating a sense of place through the individual self. Every human is interacting with the place through practices and through affects between themselves and other bodies, both being important to how the assemblage works. The framework gives a rich study, a focus on the complex and the multiplicity, and it has a lot in common with a relational view of place. On the other hand, assemblage theory, can be difficult to fully master since it challenges the norms of how to see the world. There is a high threshold for usage of the concepts. Still, understanding place as assemblage could be useful for nourishing discussions of place in academia, but also for the urban planning profession. It reminds us that places are not a physical appearance or functionality, but something much richer. Changing one element can change the place in the foundation, stressing the notion of planning with people, not for people.

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