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Senses of Place


Edited by Steven Feld and Keith H. Basso

The complex relationship of people to places has come under increasing scholarly scrutiny in recent years as acute global conditions of exile, displacement, and inflamed borders-to say nothing of struggles by indigenous peoples and cultural minorities for ancestral homelands, land rights, and retention of sacred places-have brought the political question of place into sharp focus. But to date, little attention has been paid to the ethnography of place, to how people actually live in, perceive, and invest with meaning the places they call home.

In this compelling new volume, eight respected ethnographers explore and lyrically evoke the ways in which people experience, express, imagine, and know the places in which they live. Case studies range from the Apaches of Arizona’s White Mountains to the residents of backwoods “hollers” in Appalachia and the Kaluli people of New Guinea’s rainforests. As these writers confront the dilemmas and possibilities of an anthropological consideration of place, they make an important and moving contribution to our understanding of ourselves.

1996. 310 pp., 18 black-and-white illustrations, references, notes, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Keith H. Basso, Karen I. Blu, Edward S. Casey, Steven Feld, Charles O. Frake, Clifford Geertz, Miriam Kahn, Kathleen C. Stewart

Download an excerpt.

Watch our twenty-fifth-anniversary book talk, a discussion of developments in the field between Steven Feld, Amahl Bishara, and Kristina Lyons.

“….what an anthropology of place, space and landscape needs to achieve….demonstrates the continued power and vitality of detailed ethnographic research.”
—Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“This is a volume that should be cited in the literature for decades to come.”
—Peter R. Schmidt, University of Florida


  1. How to Get from Space to Place in a Fairly Short Stretch of Time: Phenomenological Prolegomena
    Edward S. Casey
  2. Wisdom Sits in Places: Notes on a Western Apache Landscape
    Keith H. Basso
  3. Waterfalls of Song: An Acoustemology of Place Resounding in Boasvi, Papua New Guinea
    Steven Feld
  4. An Occupied Place
    Kathleen C. Stewart
  5. Your Place and Mine: Sharing Emotional Landscapes in Wamira, Papua New Guinea
    Miriam Kahn
  6. “Where Do You Stay At?”: Homeplace and Community among the Lumbee
    Karen I. Blu
  7. Pleasant Places, Past Times, and Sheltered Identity in Rural East Anglia
    Charles O. Frake
  8. Afterword
    Clifford Geertz