Belonging: A Culture of Place
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Belonging: A Culture of Place

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  181 ratings  ·  31 reviews
>What does it mean to call a place home? Who is allowed to become a member of a community? When can we say that we truly belong?

These are some of the questions of place and belonging that renowned cultural critic bell hooks examines in her new book, Belonging: A Culture of Place. Traversing past and present, Belonging charts a cyclical journey in which hooks moves from

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Paperback, 230 pages
Published October 20th 2008 by Routledge (first published October 24th 2004)
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Rowena
This is a collection of essays all on different topics but a few of them did touch upon topics that had already been discussed. Still, I found it to be a very interesting read, especially how bell hooks tied in racial and class issues and ideas to environmentalism and how she stressed that we're losing touch with nature and the disastrous results that could result. I enjoyed reading about her growing up in Kentucky. Very nostalgic book.
Amy
I know that grammar is a tool of racist imperialist capitalist dominator culture...but I still think this book could use some serious editing.
hilaryhail
So poorly edited it's a bit hard to read. Repetitive (even for a collection of essays from different contexts) and blatant grammar mistakes make it hard to pick up intended meaning. Sometimes seems like she wanted to find a way to relay meaningful quotes from books she has been reading. There are some fascinating sections on quilting, porches, and tobacco. Also, it's a Wendell Berry lovefest so that was fun.

I enjoyed being pushed to consider more deeply why I choose not to return home (to Kentu...more
Jade River
This is the first bell hooks book I've read. Perhaps my expectations were too high. I am giving this book two stars because I found that the book was overly repetitive and didn't really advance the conversation regarding 'the culture of place'. I also hoped that it might be more objective versus a narrative of bell hook's personal experience. However, I did enjoy the interview with Wendell Berry, and I would like to read more of his work. But, I didn't end up finishing the book because it just f...more
Eli
I'll admit I wasn't able to finish this. There's parts that are really powerful, like when she talks about the importance of reclaiming Black people's connection to the land, to farming, and the ways her grandparents and childhood community in the hills of Kentucky had of relating to the world with honesty and respect that was entirely foreign to most people she came in contact with after going to college in California. (I'm not doing this part of the book justice, but it gives you some idea.)

T...more
Ms. Online
OLD KENTUCKY HOME
Valerie Grim


A Review Belonging: A Culture of Place
By bell hooks
Routledge

African Americans’ oral and written traditions are full of stories about return, of reverse migration away from places where they exiled themselves in a search for economic, social and political opportunity. For more than 400 years, these stories have encouraged back-to-Africa and back-to-the-South movements. Now hooks, a widely published author, feminist and native of Kentucky, has become a returnee—she is...more
Rita
Sep 15, 2010 Rita marked it as to-read
I'd like to read this story of her childhood.
Ms.: 'Generations of African Americans have gone in search of old farm homes where they were born and raised, diligently seeking the gardens that held their nourishment, the streams where they fished trout for the family's supper, that spot where grandma's flower garden grew. This remembering and longing, hooks writes, is an indication of a need to feel connected, though some might argue that it is also a desire to make the present tolerable and hopef...more
Sarah Jane
This book is really amazing! I finished it in two days-and really, I would say, next to Communion, it's gotta be my next favorite bell hooks book. In this book she talks about the complexities of home, of roots, of family, of belonging. She discusses the many ways in which land stewardship of African-American folks has been erased and dismissed. She talks about feeling a calling back to her home state of Kentucky where she longs to build a realtionship with the land she grew up on, where she can...more
Kim
Jun 09, 2010 Kim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: hooks fans; city dwellers; anyone who isn't feeling grounded.
Shelves: theory
Belonging is a collection of meditations on place and roots. How where we are from shapes who are and how being away from where we are from leaves marks on us. The work is about hooks' return to her native place as a return to herself. She thinks and writes about black people's northward migration to escape racism in the south and the psychological scars it left on the collective black consciousness. And she talks about home and community, race and class and how they all shape each other.

I still...more
Grace
This is a thought provoking read. Your thoughts on race, gender, class, tobacco, the environment, and quilting will broaden and change as a result of reading "belonging a culture of place" by bell hooks. I didn't necessarily relate or even agree with all of the ideas hooks illustrates in her book, but her ideas will make you think about who you are, where you belong, and your place in race, gender, and class relations here in America.

I wish the manuscript was better edited before going to press...more
Liza
May 19, 2010 Liza marked it as will-i-ever-finish-these-books
I've never had this happen before, but I cannot finish this book (at least this printing of the book) due to the alarming abundance of spelling and typographical errors. Having worked in the editorial department of a publisher, I am very attuned to grammar, spelling, etc., and after having noticed mistakes on almost every other page my enjoyment as a reader has transformed to feeling as though I have become this book's copy editor. In other words, reading this book is feeling like work.

Shame, s...more
Amanda
Aug 01, 2011 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: race
This book was good for me. It gave me new ideas and words for new ideas, and made me feel closer to old ideas. Some themes that seemed most relevant to me were, the porch as space, quilting as history and imagination, hillbillies as revolutionary spirits,connecting the body to the earth, difference between urban and agrarian living, small town possibilities for intentional antiracism, safety related to being around people who are like you (no), and representations of whiteness in the black imagi...more
Kat
compilation of previously published essays and articles so redundant at times. hoped for more.
Joan
I found bell hooks personal reflections on her journey home totally fascinating and enlightening. She writes about the tensions and personal discoveries she had to work through to finally return to the hills of Kentucky, the place that she ultimately reclaimed as home. I especially enjoyed the sections on the forgotten history of rural black farmers. Many chapters are a call to remember this part of black American history and a return to the importance of the land for non-whites and especially A...more
Tinea
Sep 25, 2010 Tinea rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anarchists in Appalachia, especially
bell hooks at her best, wandering, thoughtful, and lyrical, writing about subjects dearest to my heart: anarchism (yes, using that word), crafting community, place, racial justice, trauma, relationships with the land, and a shared love for Wendell Berry. This book was nourishing. I read it and felt philosophically more whole, could feel pieces coming together. It's a slow one, with essays on quiltmakers and memory, and not a lot of rage. When the world sucks so hard I am so thankful to have book...more
Nikhil Gulati
The parts where the author talks about her grandparents and her childhood are really beautiful and moving. When she relates the stories of her grandmother's quilt-making and how black women in America used it as a medium for creative expression is also very powerful.

I skipped some of the parts that seemed a bit boring (such as one on mountaintop removal mining) and others that were too abstruse and wordy (such as the chapter titled "Representations of Whiteness in the Black imagination").
Ellen
This is an amazing, amazing book. Kentucky native bell hooks writes about issues related to her home in Appalachia, and also analyzes issues of racism, sexism, environmentalism...all intersecting. It's absolutely wonderful, and as I'm going to Kentucky in four days I'm looking forward to seeing the landscapes which she describes.
One downside: whoever proofread this missed a shitload of typos. Distracting.
Marion Grau
I had hoped this was going to be more about place and space and somewhat about race and class, though of course that is her strength and she has many insightful things to say about the intersection thereof. It is interesting to read about her Kentucky roots and how tobacco and race and place intersect. But I had hoped for less anthropocentrism and more topophilia, which I didn't get as much of as I wanted.
Eliot Fiend
interesting memoir-ish writing about hooks' relationship to place and the mountains of the deep south. i recently read her memoir "wounds of passion: a writing life" and i think that gave this book better depth and context. not the most striking of writings about place that i've encountered but a welcoming meeting of disciplines and turn of focus from this amazing and important writer.
Sarah Jane
I had to read this for a class. For this particular class, I dreaded reading all the books because they were so boring. This book did not bore me. This book kept me interested because of all the grammatical errors. I ignored the actual story of the book because it was too pretentious for my taste but the grammatical errors were right up my alley.
Joe T.
Made me appreciate being black and Appalachian and my Southwest Georgia roots.
Claire
Mar 14, 2011 Claire added it
Shelves: ecofeminism
bell hooks is always powerful. Here's a book you might not consider "ecofeminist," but most definitely is. She connects the concept of community building with that of bioregions and discusses how geographical locations form our consciousness.
Trevor Thompson
This is bell's musings on her journey home to Kentucky. Wendell Berry's voice is pervasive in this book, and her interview/conversation with him is particularly fascinating. I really enjoyed her essay on tobacco too.
Peony
for anyone who has ever felt lost, or questioned coming home. The first essay (this is a book of essays) was especially telling of the connections we carry, and deny, with our homelands.
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
A nice anthology of hooks' essays. I especially enjoyed her writing about moving back to Kentucky, Mountain Top Removal, and porches!! Some of the essays were redundant. :(
Kathleen
everything in here is a reprint. makes some ideas redundant. was looking for a deeper analysis of "place."
Monica
Oct 19, 2009 Monica marked it as to-read
Have to return it to the library before I can finish it. Oh well. Will get back to it later. The first few chapters were good.
Jillian
I'm SO inspired that although I could be finished with the book...I would rather let it marinate and motivate my own writing!
Megan
So amazing. A must read. Most definitely. I love you bell hooks!
Althea Lazzaro
Nov 19, 2008 Althea Lazzaro marked it as to-read
My mom took my copy, so now I have to wait.
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bell hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) is an African-American author, feminist, and social activist. Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in...more
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“We often cause ourselves suffering by wanting only to live in a world of valleys, a world without struggle and difficulty, a world that is flat, plain, consistent.” 21 likes
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