“The Village as a Place of…”. Anchoring the Territorial Identity of the Countryside. Examples from Poland
Abstract. The aim of this paper is to discuss how inhabitants of selected villages in Poland perceive their living space, what meanings they assign to it and what is important for them in their nearest neighbourhoods. The presented research is set within the cultural approach in rural geography, in which the notion of experienced and imagined rural spaces is central. We answer the question whether there are any general patterns referring to the process of transforming the space into a “place”, defined by the individual understanding of rurality, strengthening local identity and place attachment. Research was based on guided individual in-depth interviews in order to extract inhabitants’ narratives about the selected villages. Individual stories collected along the study reveal an image of the countryside as significant, often beloved, and close place, marked with a special meaning and value for interviewees, shaping their sense of self and place attachment. The interpretation of these narratives is structured into four categories of “anchors” and “magnets” focused on: 1) the village as a place of generational continuity, attachment, and rootedness; 2) the village as a place of cultivating local customs and remembrance of important historical events; 3) the village as an important, close, and familiar place; 4) the village as an attractive place to live and referred to the person-process-place framework of place attachment.
K e y w o r d s: rurality, representations, narratives, place attachment, territorial identity, Poland