dwell, live, coexist

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Urban space and the concept of place in the city of Crateús


The configurations of the urban fabric of the municipality of Crateús existing since its formation, from the 1980s and the consolidation during the subsequent decade, contributed to a considerable expansion of its size as the seat city of the aforementioned administrative division. Such expansion is due to the urbanization process, moved, not, as a result of the industrialization process, as will occur with the regional and national metropolitan cities in Brazil, for example, Fortaleza and the São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro axis, respectively. The real reasons why this urbanization process took place are linked to the social and environmental issues of the time.

Among the epistemological studies of post-1945 history, we have the insurgency of one of the branches of geographic studies, which is called Humanistic Geography, whose consolidation only took place during the 70s. According to LEITE (1998, p.9-10), line of thought is mainly characterized by the appreciation of affective relationships developed by individuals in relation to their environment. Therefore, there was an appeal to the philosophies of meaning – phenomenology, existentialism, idealism and hermeneutics – which essentially find in human subjectivity the interpretations for their attitudes towards the world (Mello, 1990; Holzer, 1993; Holzer, 1997). Among the great exponents related to this meaning are Edward Relph, Yi-Fu Tuan, Anne Buttimer and JN Entrikin. In Brazil, the works of Mello stand out in the sense of understanding the perceptions of cariocas in the face of the urbanization process of the city of Rio de Janeiro (from the songs of the popular repertoire) and of Holzer, however, this one more directed to theoretical-methodological reflections within this study perspective.

The same author points out that in this perspective of study, the concept of place is detailed in as a result of the anthropic experience and that for Humanists, LEITE (1998, p.10), “(…) place means much more than the geographic sense of location. It does not refer to objects and attributes of locations, but to types of experience and involvement with the world, the need for roots and security” (Relph, 1979). Or, “place is a center of meanings built by experience” (Tuan, 1975). In reality, these are affective references that we develop throughout our lives from living with the place and with the other. They are loaded with emotional sensations mainly because we feel safe and protected (Mello, 1990); it gives us both good memories and a sense of home (Tuan, 1975; Buttimer, 1985a). In the words of Buttimer (1985b, p. 228), “place is the sum of symbolic, emotional, cultural, political and biological dimensions”.

Faced with the conceptions of Place in times of informational and technical connectivity of contemporary society, we realize that the occupations of common leisure spaces in medium-sized cities, namely: central public squares, churches, public places, and others, have increased considerably, or that is, such places attracted a number of people in order to fill them as a moment beyond leisure to build social relationships, and thus, the consolidation of social life, a typical attitude of social beings such as humans.

But given the technological advances and the variety of cinematographic productions made available by the streaming, for example, Netflix, Disney, Amazon and the Brazilian Globoplay, what makes people choose to go to these spaces? Based on this simple questioning, we note that the reasons why people prefer to occupy these places are due to three recurring reasons. The first is in line with Milton Santos's speech (1997), about places, which are a shared conviviality between the most diverse people, forms, institutions–cooperation and divergences are the bases of life in common. In the second point, we list what Suertegaray (2001, p.6),

This treatment has assumed different dimensions. On the one hand, the place is distinguished from subjective views linked to emotional perceptions, such as the topophilic feeling (happy experiences) referred to by Yu-Fu Tuan (1975). On the other hand, the place can be read through the concept of geographicity, a term that, according to Relph (1979), “encloses all the responses and experiences we have of environments in which we live, before analyzing and assigning concepts to these experiences”. This implies understanding the place through our existential needs, which are location, position, mobility, interaction with objects and/or people. This perspective is identified with our corporeity and, from it, our being in the world, in this case, from the place as a space of existence and coexistence.

That is, the conditions that make the subjects change the perks and comfort of their homes, are attributed to the points related to the sentimental issues interposed in the subjectivity and identities established by the various social and family groups in these environments to be occupied. Finally, it is worth mentioning, as already written in the previous citation, when referring to the topophilic conditions of Tuan (1975), namely, in the artistic, cultural, political dimensions, among others, made explicit in these places, and thus, promote a shared identity even in the dialectic of the lived facts of these people.

The purpose of this article is to find out the real reasons that lead people to fill these spaces, starting from their singularities and their own identities. As a justification in the execution of the research, it is due to the fact of discussing the importance of investing in more living spaces for the most varied functionalities. One of them is to combat crime, a common aspect both in medium and large cities without using violence as the main reversal strategy of public power. Another point refers to the quality of cities through measures such as afforestation of cities, incentives for public, sustainable and low-cost transport by civilians, ensuring a strong socio-environmental development for Crateús.


In the methodology, we used the bibliographic survey and the observational method of lived spaces. In the preparation and basis of the article in the theoretical contribution, we used authors focused on the perspective of a humanistic geography and closer to geographic epistemology, such as: Yi-Fu Tuan (1975)Place: an experiential perspective, Anne Buttimer (1985) Learning the dynamism of the world lived,Adriana Leite (1998) The Place: Two Geographical Meanings, J. Mello (1990) Humanistic Geography: the perspective of lived experience and a radical critique of positivism,E. Relph (1979) The Phenomenological Basis of Geography, and finally Yi-FuTuan(1975)Place: an experiential perspective. In addition to the specific theoretical weight given by these authors to the discussion of humanistic geography, they attribute, as a practice, the stimulation of observation with the condition of feeling the space, in its dynamics, basic functions, characteristics presented and emotions transmitted. Thus, such knowledge conditioned, in both theoretical and practical perspectives, the outline for the importance of rethinking and building such points in a basic, theoretical and qualitative research in its normal dimensions in the urban spaces of Crateús, the main object of this work .

Results and discussions

Based on the computed points, we have to explain the role of the humanistic geography created in the municipality of Crateús, in line with the speech of Entrinkin (1980, p.16), in which he points out that,

(…) humanist geographers argue that their approach deserves the label “Humanist” because they study those aspects of man that are most distinctively human: meanings, values, goals and purposes. (...). From valuing perception and attitudes comes the concern to verify tastes, preferences, characteristics and particularities of places. The environmental context and aspects that result in the charm and magic of places, their personality and distinction are also valued. There is the interweaving between the group and the place.

In this, the values ​​built and established in Crateus, occurred in the occupation of different spaces, whether public or private. Due to the socioeconomic conditions of the population of Crateús, spaces of collective bias were of paramount importance for the exports and imports of knowledge, money, goods, animals which were consistent with the lives of people, whose origins came from the rural areas and had at their core the weight and dynamics of rural areas, with the presence of animals, plants, expressive religiosity, among others.

Adapting to current dimensions, the same fundamental spaces in social interaction, constituted possible ways for the similar principles of the past to occur, which were to promote union, interactivity, connection and contact of living, of inhabiting and living together in these spaces whose functionalities were built in the naturalness of facts and the common condition of anthropic agents linked to the symbolic values ​​of artificial environments.

Thus, the federative powers must invest more and more in the occupation and construction of squares, parks, botanical gardens, museums, and others, in order to stimulate the continuous occupation of people in these, guaranteeing them the right to inhabit, to live and to live in the urban fabric of Crateús.

Final considerations

Every perception tends to be selective, creative, fleeting, inaccurate, generalized, stereotyped, and, precisely because imprecise, partially heterogeneous impressions about the world at large are always more convenient than exact details about a small segment of the world.

Therefore, the sensitive analyzes and perceptions of the means, based on the perspectives of a humanized or humanistic geography, we see how it is in the collective, it enriches our feelings, our attributes and particular dimensions. In this condition, the objective of this work managed to explain, in a simple way, the subjectivities of the facts and the collective perceptions captured when the methodology of observation and feeling the spaces in their micro and macro characteristics was used. It is also worth pointing out that this research strongly expressed the role of squares, churches, gardens, museums, schools, public and private universities, in promoting these joint and localized actions towards similar ones in individualized and cosmopolitan objectives. We have seen that such environments are necessary and require continual revitalization over time and the spaces themselves.

*Francisco Leandro da Costa Soares is majoring in Geography at IFCE-Campus Crateus.

*Antonio Adilio Costa da Silva Professor of Geography at IFCE-Campus Crateus.



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