Is place experience culturally specific? A commentary on yoly zentella's article

Hirofumi Minami

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


A dialogical commentary on Yuly Zentella' s (2009) article dealing with the cultural experiences of the loss of ties with their land among the Hispanos of Northern New Mexico is attempted firstly by referring to the psychological literature on transitions which utilizes Bowbly's theory of attachment and loss in actual incidents of relocations and displacement, and secondly by critically questioning the validity of combining concepts emerging from a grounded theory approach with general notions borrowed from attachment and place attachment theories. Although there are similarities between Zentella's study and studies of psycho-social transition that reveal stage-like processes following loss and grieving reactions of individuals, the former study is characterized by the impact's longer time-frame, which extends over generations of the population, while the latter literature deal with the loss of immediate environment by individuals, who undergo critical changes in a relatively shorter period. The cultural specificity of the multi-dimensional model proposed by Zentella is questioned on the ground that the added dimensions did not originate from the specific population under study, but are borrowed from more general theoretical abstractions. While the abductive mode of reasoning is appreciated, a possible mis-match between local concepts emerging from the grounded theory approach and the notion of attachment is discussed. As an alternative direction to value cultural specificity and phenomenological traditions, some exploration on the concept of 'imprisonment' found by Zentella is attempted by adopting a symbol formation approach which takes language at a metaphorical level, and thus several examples of place metaphors, such as attached, rooted and imprisoned, are considered, with the hope of accumulating culturally specific studies of place experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalCulture and Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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