A Place to Belong: Community, Order and Everyday Space in Calvert, Newfoundland
By: Gerald L. Pocius (author)Hardback
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By accepted standards of tradition, Calvert's culture is declining. Old structures are regularly torn down or renovated; antique household items are replaced with modern conveniences. Pocius argues, however, that the tangible expressions of a culture can be misleading. Calvert's essence is not in the things owned and used by its residents but in the spaces in which those things abide and in the attitudes, values, and obligations that delineate the order of those spaces. From woodlands, water, and fields to yards, gardens, and homes, Calvert's physical and social structure is governed by shared concerns about the community's livelihood and welfare. As a resident of Calvert puts it, "Where you're working in the same space with people you know ...it's just not practical to be falling out with everyone." The sense of community that pervades Calvert is best exemplified by its annual draw for fishing berths. Because productivity varies among offshore fishing grounds, there is no private ownership of fishing rights. Rather, a lottery instituted in 1919 ensures each family the same chances for periodic access to the best fishing berths.
The draw continues until all the fishing berths are awarded, but it is common for a family to opt out once they have drawn enough good berths. There are also instances of the most successful fishing operations sharing their catches. From his observations of Calvert's people at work and leisure, Pocius provides evidence to confirm the viability and durability of their culture. He reveals that standard assumptions about culture are inadequate, particularly those based on the primacy of artifacts and on sharp dichotomies between tradition and modernity. Calvert, he shows, belies our notion that declining cultural values and social segmentation are unavoidable side-effects of modernization and a rise in material well-being. A Place to Belong will promote a constructive scepticism about the ways we perceive and interpret cultures and, most important, will remind us of what it really means to belong to a place.
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- ID: 9780773508057
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