Friday, May 25, 2012

Regional Identity

For my upcoming class on the Sociology of Appalachia, I'm going to be discussing the theory of Regional Identity. I've only brushed on the topic when I was in Grad School so I wanted to go back and see if anything more recent has been published on the topic.

Primarily I'm finding a lot of the writings coming from Geography of all places.

One of the authors that keeps popping up is that of Anssi Paasi, PhD from the University of Oulu in Finland.

Two of his articles stick out in the field of Human Geography:

"The institutionalization of regions: a theoretical framework for the understanding of the emergence of regions and the constitution of regional identity," Passi, 1986

"Region and place: regional identity in question," Passi, 2003

But what is Regional Identity?

A very basic definition could be: "Regional identity is the idea that part of a person's social identity is rooted not only in their beliefs, values, norms, etc., but also in the region where they live." -Me.

The human brain is essentially a 'pattern-maker' in that it likes to fit things (people, social events, etc.) into patterns to make sense of them. Human society is no different in its fondness for labeling people to fit them into socially constructed categories. One look no further than the various conflicts of within American history to note how labels (especially regional labels) can radically alter a person's social identity. Are you a Hatfield or a McCoy? Are you from the North or the South? Are you Midwest, East Coast or West Coast?

Aside from Gender, I wonder if Region is in the top-three elements that help shape a person's identity. It influences what dialect you may speak with (A southern twang, a Texan draw or even a northern clip) as you are raised within a particular region or what foods you are accustomed to eating (southern soul food versus northern cooking).

I will have to look into this further but there's definitely something here to work with.

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