by Niko Lipsanen (2001)
Department of Geography
University of Helsinki
Chapters 2 to 6: Theories about place and methods of the research
Chapters 7 to 10: Physical characteristics and urban structure of Roseau
Chapters 11 to 13: Roseau as experienced by people
Chapters 14 and 15: Concluding remarks
In its simplest expression,
geography asks humanity's oldest,
most fundamental questions:
"Where am I?"
"How do I get there?"
"What is on the other side of the mountain?"
- Kenneth C. Davis (1993: 16)
One is always in time, and one is everywhere in place. Being is temporal and placial. This is why history and geography have such a fundamental role in placing a human being into the world.
Terms 'history' and 'geography'--unlike many other scientific fields of inquiry--do not have -logy endings. They are not logos sciences with separate specific subject areas such as biology which is the science of living nature, or sociology the science of society. Nor are they -ics or -ic ending systematic law seeking fields of inquiry such as physics, mathematics, or logic. History is a narrative science--or art--that tells stories about the past. Geography--literally 'earth writing'--is descriptive: it describes earthly situations.
Both history and geography deal with human situatedness. The first situates humans in time, the latter in place. These are fundamental, and hence philosophical questions. My aim in this study is therefore philosophical. I try to understand the placiality of human beingness. What makes this study to belong to the field of geography and not to that of philosophy is it is a study of place, not 'place'. I use the philosophical concept of 'place' in a geographical setting: place.
The place of my study is Roseau in Dominica. Dominica--not to be confused with the Dominican Republic--is an independent island state located in the middle of the Lesser Antilles island chain in the Eastern Caribbean (Fig. 1). Roseau is its capital city and major centre with the population of 16,000.
The title of the study is Naturalistic and existential realms of place in Roseau, Dominica. Hence, this study is about place, or the realms of it. The place is somewhere and sometime, and in this case it is in Roseau and on the turn of the 21st century. Being sometime is not my explicit concern like being somewhere is but, nevertheless, temporality is part of earthly facticity. My aim, however, is not to conduct an up-to-date study of actual Roseau since what is up-to-date today is outmoded tomorrow. My aim is to understand the placeness of place, or the roseauness of Roseau.
After establishing the research questions in Chapter 2 I will give a short presentation to the history of earth-writing in the beginning of Chapter 3. Describing the diversity of earthly situations has traditionally been the task of regional geography. In this study, the concept of 'place' is used instead of 'region', and this is due to the ontological fundamentality of the former. This is more widely discussed in the conceptual part of this study that is dealt with mainly in Chapter 3 where also the grounds for dividing place into two realms--i.e. naturalistic and existential--are given. In Chapters 4 and 5, details of the naturalistic and existential aspects of place are discussed. In Chapter 6, I present the methods that define the outlines for the remainder of the study.