Sense of Place in the Coastscape: The Social Construction of Coastal Space and Place On the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay

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Sense of Place in the Coastscape: The Social Construction of Coastal Space and Place On the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay

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Title: Sense of Place in the Coastscape: The Social Construction of Coastal Space and Place On the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay
Author: Franz, Juergen
Abstract: In this research I explore the social construction of a particular category of space. The space in question is the coastscape, consisting of shoreline land, the shoreline itself, and the adjacent tidal waters. At the center of the research are shoreline residents living on the water in the rural setting of Dorchester County, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Of interest is how they see themselves connected to the coastscape, how they know and act in it. I explore in two ways how they develop their sense of place. The first is to consider how various structural factors associated with the residential place on the water - the land, house, shoreline, tidal waters, boat and pier - shape perceptions about place. The second is to review what practices shoreline residents engage in and how these practices shape perceptions about place. I also review the role of the state in the social construction of the coastscape because the legal and regulatory framework affects shoreline residents in many ways. In addition I look at the role transitional spaces such as thresholds, edges in space, in time, and in being, and hybrid spaces play in the social construction of the coastscape, adding a theoretical element to the research. The methodology is based on open-ended conversations with shoreline residents, participant observation of crabbing and farming and archival research. The research contributes to the body of anthropological research on place and space, reflecting recent trends in the social sciences where place is seen as an active element in cultural processes. I conclude that the natural environment of the coastscape and the everyday practices of shoreline residents are the key constituent parts of sense of place rather than community discourse. Furthermore, the coastscape is legally complex and heavily regulated by all levels of government. From a theoretical perspective I conclude that the coastscape is linked in significant ways to transitional spaces both in the way the shoreline residents construct it and in the way the state constructs it.
Description: Degree awarded: Ph.D. Anthropology. The Catholic University of AmericaThis dissertation can be viewed by CUA users only.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1961/11518
Date: 2012-09-11


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