CURB Seminar - Light, Darkness and Belonging in a Modernist Housing Scheme

Wednesday 9 May 2018, 4.00PM to 5.00pm

Speaker: Vanessa May

Belonging to place is a popular topic of study among social scientists, and it is well known that sensory experiences play a central role in people’s sense of belonging to place. Yet the significance of light and dark as particular dimensions of the built environment has not received much attention in the belonging literature. These questions are explored in this paper with the help of data from a study of atmosphere and belonging in Claremont Court, a 1960s modernist housing scheme in Edinburgh designed by Sir Basil Spence. I argue that the design of Claremont Court affords particular experiences of light/dark (and relatedly warm/cold), and that these fundamentally shape how residents experience, live in and understand the Court as a place. Light and dark thus emerge as central and highly noticed aspects of residents’ sense of belonging to Claremont Court. In conclusion, I consider what a focus on light can add to our understanding of belonging as an embodied sensory experience.

Vanessa May is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Co-Director of the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives at the University of Manchester, and Co-Editor of Sociology. Her research interests include the self, belonging, temporality, family relationships and qualitative methods. Her current research focuses on sensory belonging to place, ageing in place, and the experiences of ageing migrants living in Finland. Vanessa has published in a number of journals including Sociology, Sociological Review, Time & Society and British Journal of Sociology, and is the author of Connecting Self to Society: Belonging in a Changing World (Palgrave Macmillan). 

Location: Wentworth College, W/222

Admission: FREE Eventbrite Ticket