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Belonging: A Culture of Place

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  526 ratings  ·  70 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 pla

Paperback, 230 pages
Published October 22nd 2008 by Routledge (first published October 24th 2004)
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Last week I was looking for books on belonging, and came across this one by bell hooks. I’m very fond of bell hooks, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by her and have also learnt a lot from her over the years. This book isn’t what I was expecting, though. If you aren’t familiar with her work I guess it could be summed up as her response to the white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist, patriarchy – which she sets about showing how to expose its underlying assumptions so as to eventually overthr ...more
Mar 28, 2012 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.
Aug 20, 2013 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
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bell Hooks is the most amazing writer. It took me so long to read this book because her words are like the richest Devils Food Cake ever - so rich and filling that you can only take a bit at a time before it is too much to take. I needed time to digest and think about her words before moving on to the next bit. This book is a series of essays about Belonging and place and what it means. It's about returning to your roots (as she did) and finding your place there. It's about (of course) racism an ...more
Apr 08, 2009 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
Rahil Chaluwala
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bell Hooks is a black female writer, and she was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. She was born as Gloria Watkins, and she got the name bell hooks from her great grandmother Bell Blair Hooks. The topics in her book are always on racism, nature, and the environment.
In this book Hooks wrote some beautiful quotes like "To dancing in a circle of love-to living in beloved community". In this quote she means that she loves her community and wants to stay with her community.
In this book hooks talks abou
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.)

Wellington Dasilva
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it

Wellington DaSilva

Belonging: A Culture of Place published in 2009 by Routledge in New York is a first Bell Hooks book I have picked up to read, despite many glaring grammar error and a lot of repetition throughout her story I thought that this non-fiction mind opening book was great. Hooks touches on many topics, mainly race, environment, home place, and a great interview in the book which was an enjoyable touch. I rate this book 4 stars. I liked following bell hooks memories from when s
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
This non fiction book Belonging: a culture of place by Bell Hooks, published in 2009, is beautifully written with excellent critiques on what it mean to have feeling of belonging, spiritual connection to nature. She explains various issues of society as racial integration, ecology an sustainability,protection of environment, the way things existed in our culture. You will find recognizing things that you have never thought to question. Hooks insight of nature and our society destruction of natur ...more
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
Jan 09, 2016 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
Apr 13, 2010 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
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
This non fiction book called Belonging: A Culture Of Place by Bell Hooks was published in 2009. I think it deserves 3 stars because it’s very repetitive talking about her life and the same subjects over and over again about racism, but it’s still interesting at times. Reading through this book I kept on realizing that there were spelling errors. I feel that the book was poorly written. At some points I stopped reading and said to myself, is this the right word being used correctly? Does this sen ...more
Tajiah Greer
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Belonging : a culture of place by Bell Hooks is a profound book published in 2009, on the different issues people face when trying to feel like they belong .The genre of the book is non fiction . Hooks who grew up in her native place ,Kentucky, leaves to travel all over just to return to her native home . She finally realizes that she belonged there all along .Hooks discuses different struggles with racism , with sustainability ,and with ecology . I found the topic of belonging interesting . It ...more
Khalid Khalil
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 03, 2010 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
Jade River
Apr 25, 2014 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
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
In the book belonging: a culture of place, Bell Hooks talks about her life and experiences growing up in Kentucky. This book is non-fiction. She talks about all that she has been through and shares her opinions on certain topics. I give this book a rating of three out of five stars because the editing could’ve been better, and she repeated some topics over and over again. But it was an okay book, and it made me look at certain things in life differently and I learned some things. Read this book ...more
May 30, 2018 added it
Shelves: theory, place
a gorgeous collection and necessary intervention where spirtuality, place, race, class, and community intersperse in brilliant dialogue. love her work with wendell barry and her way of animating theory into interpersonal relationships.
*BUT* oh my GOSH @Routledge books EDIT YOUR WORK! it is a privilege to publish one of the preeminent thinkers of the past century and it is disrespectful to her work to release this collection with such lazy editing and frequent editorial oversight. don't get how y
May 18, 2009 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.
Nov 26, 2010 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.
Ahndrea Sprattling
Jan 01, 2015 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.
Amy Layton
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, nonfiction
This was an amazing book--if you've ever read Black Faces, White Spaces, this book is for you!  bell hooks, with her usual tenacity and eloquence, discusses race, gender, class, and location.  How do we carry our homes with us?  What, exactly, constitutes a home?  How have people found their homes, or been forced to call a place their home?

hooks describes the Great North Migration as well as environmental racism, urban development, and healing.  Where it may be commonplace, as it is in my family
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A little bit of repetition throughout since these were originally one-off essays, but the way she writes about Kentucky is just beautiful. There's also a good amount of exploration around race, class, community, and home. My favorite was an exchange between her and Wendell Berry, where he points out that "the root of our racial problem is not racism, but our inordinate desire to be superior." Obviously, a lot to unpack there, but read this knowing there are some really great kernels that will le ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
This book was beautiful and heartwarming. hooks reflects on the importance of belonging, especially in relation to the earth. Through her own narrative I felt able to reflect on my sense of belonging, where it is lacking, and how we can foster cultures of belonging on a grander scale.
Elizabeth Ward
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The content in here was excellent, but a few sections could have benefited from another edit. I will definitely need to read more from hooks in the future.
Ms. Online
Valerie Grim

A Review Belonging: A Culture of Place
By bell hooks

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
Sarah Jane
Dec 05, 2008 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
Sep 15, 2010 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
Aug 01, 2011 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
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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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