School of Geography

School Research Seminar: Parochialism: A defence

27 January 2015

Time: 12:15 - 1:15pm
Venue: FB 2.07 City Centre seminar room

Professor John Tomaney (The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL)

Chair: Professor Jane Wills

Abstract: I present a defence of parochialism against the claims of cosmopolitanism and in the context of debates about the relational accounts of place. Against normative claims that local attachments and territorial sense of belonging lead to exclusion and cultural atrophy, the paper suggests that the local, its cultures and its solidarities are a moral starting point and a locus of ecological concern in all human societies and at all moments of history. I explore this idea by reference to art and literature, especially poetry. This analysis suggests that local identities should be understood contextually; there is no necessary relation between local forms of identity and practices of exclusion. The paper shows how the virtue of parochialism is expressed in art with a universal appeal. I conclude, therefore, that we need more detailed studies of real local identities, which avoid a presumption of disdain.