Crates, Kegs, and Belonging: Making Places for Identity in a Midwestern Back Alley

By Karl Sandin.

Published by The International Journal of Design in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A deteriorated back alley zone behind Granville, Ohio's central business district is socially productive particularly in terms of casual workplace identities. I argue that such place making and identity formation processes are generally understandable in terms of Neil Leach's theoretical notions of "belonging," and specifically comprehensible by means of an application of Michel de Certeau's spatial rhetoric of synecdoche. The analysis of synecdoche as a mode of social-spatial "making do" at these sites involves architectonic aspects of "tiling" and enclosure, similar to those in other vernacular contexts in North America, and globally. Leach's frame of belonging proves to be useful overall, and synecdoche here becomes a precise tool for assessing physical, corporeal, and social relations in this process of micro-scale place making. These insights into the social productivity of a particular urban waste space contribute to other recent applications of de Certeau's spatial rhetorics by Schweizer and Castello.

Keywords: Waste Space, Vernacular Architecture, Identity

The International Journal of Design in Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.1-21. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.293MB).

Dr. Karl Sandin

Associate Professor, Art History Program, Department of Art, Denison University, Granville, OH, USA

Karl Sandin teaches urbanism and art / architectural history at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. Originally trained in classical medieval art and architectural history, his research now revolves around the classical tradition in the built environment, conceptions of "waste space" in urbanism, and around marginal housing and homelessness in the North American Midwest. During 2006 - 2008 he directed the East Main Street Urban Visioning Project in Newark, Ohio, in collaboration with the Neighborhood Design Center of Columbus, Ohio. Sandin also explores the potential of visual art and performance in the study of urban form. He participates in Denison's Sherman Fairchild Intitiative in the Fine Arts focusing on collaborative teaching and digital technology, with sculptor and performance artist Micaela Vivero, who also teaches at Denison.