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Belonging: A Culture of Place

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  247 Ratings  ·  35 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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Community Reviews

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Rowena
Feb 10, 2013 Rowena rated it really liked it
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.
Hilary
Aug 20, 2013 Hilary rated it it was ok
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
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Amy
Feb 12, 2009 Amy rated it it was ok
I know that grammar is a tool of racist imperialist capitalist dominator culture...but I still think this book could use some serious editing.
Lance
Jan 09, 2016 Lance rated it really liked it
Maybe because it's bell hooks, maybe because the topic if "belonging" is one so close to my heart, but I guess I just expected more. I love bell hooks, and want to start by saying that I think there are lots of great ideas here. The book is super poorly edited, but I don't think that's hooks' fault. It's really distracting, though -- and makes certain concepts practically unintelligible. I grew up in Detroit, and struggle with a compulsion to leave a place that is too often defined by racism, po ...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
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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
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Jade River
Apr 30, 2014 Jade River rated it it was ok
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
Ahndrea Sprattling
Jan 30, 2015 Ahndrea Sprattling rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this book. It was so enjoyable that I had to put "posts it" on statements that were so poetically beautifully written. There are some books that she mention in Belonging: A Culture of Place that I want to read like A Hidden Wound by Wendell Berry.
Ellen
Jul 22, 2009 Ellen rated it it was amazing
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.
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
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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
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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
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Sarah Jane
Dec 22, 2008 Sarah Jane rated it it was amazing
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 really liked it
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
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Sivananthi T
May 24, 2016 Sivananthi T rated it really liked it
This was a lovely treatise that in addition to the politicising, the organising, there is also a need for all of us activists to look at the deep interconnections of being and belonging with land and country. And to reconnect to non-consumer capitalist modes of production which make life, meaning, relationship deeper than what we are offered today.
Nik
Oct 07, 2014 Nik rated it it was amazing
I never come to bell hooks for a story but for several ideas. "Belonging: A Culture of Place" did not disappoint. It had several stories of her own life and her feelings about returning to her birth place, Kentucky. "Belonging," armed me with a new definition of home. I am also contemplating how I've been seeking a connection.
Amanda
Aug 01, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it
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
Jun 19, 2014 Kat rated it liked it
compilation of previously published essays and articles so redundant at times. hoped for more.
Joan
Aug 04, 2009 Joan rated it really liked it
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 really liked it
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
Jun 17, 2011 Nikhil Gulati rated it really liked it
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").
Marion Grau
Dec 30, 2009 Marion Grau rated it liked it
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
Dec 06, 2012 Eliot Fiend rated it liked it
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
May 09, 2012 Sarah Jane rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 04, 2014 Joe T. rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 22, 2011 Trevor Thompson rated it liked it
Shelves: sociology, memoir
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
Dec 27, 2009 Peony rated it really liked it
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
Jul 16, 2014 Kathleen rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-own-it
everything in here is a reprint. makes some ideas redundant. was looking for a deeper analysis of "place."
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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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“With reciprocity all things do not need to be equal in order for acceptance and mutuality to thrive. If equality is evoked as the only standard by which it is deemed acceptable for people to meet across boundaries and create community, then there is little hope. Fortunately, mutuality is a more constructive and positive foundation for the building of ties that allow for differences in status, position, power, and privilege whether determined by race, class, sexuality, religion, or nationality.” 4 likes
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