A provincial town as viewed by children and teenagers

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A provincial town as viewed by children and teenagers
Zhigaltsova Tatyana Valentinovna, associate Professor of the Department (Chair) of Culture and Religious Studies of the M. V. Lomonosov Northern Arctic Federal University, Arkhangelsk, Russia.
E-mail: zhitava@gmail. com
A provincial town as viewed by children and teenagers
Abstract: This article is the preliminary result of research «The image of the provincial town». The author presents a definition and justification of the «mental map» to the local urban studies. The author identifies the places of disquiet which allow for the survey of transformation that mental values by children and teenagers in the provincial town to the North of Russia.
Keywords: mental map, provincial town, childhood, the places of disquiet.
«The image of the city» is a topic, which has gained considerable attention lately. «The city» in historical, publicist and scientific literature of the 20th century was represented as a place where utopian dreams and ideas could be materialized. Contemporary urban studies regard «the city» as a kind of creative or interactive space, in which both an adult and a child find it comfortable to live. This article is the preliminary result of research in the sphere of the philosophical category of «an alien» in an urban setting. An immigrant, a representative of a certain subculture, an outcast, and even a city-dweller can be «an alien» in a city. The «childhood phenomenon», as in my opinion, adults often consider children to be alien, incomprehensible, pre-logical objects. It is considered that children move along the itineraries of the adults, and their popular and unpopular places are defined by their parents' taste- hence, children cannot be regarded as full-scale subjects of an urban environment. Therefore, on the one hand, the research exploring an urban environment of a child with its imagery and symbols, popular and unpopular spots, places of disquiet, hideouts- and on the other hand, the aggregate image of the city, constructed by a certain child or teenager. «The image» requires the use of visual research methods: analysis of children’s drawings, photography, mapping (creation of a mental map).
Kevin Lynch, an American scientist, was the first to apply the mapping method (Lynch K. Good City Form. Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London: The MIT Press, 1981). The author identified the
structures of an urban environment (paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks), their images and significance in the eyes of a city-dweller. It was the corelation between the image and the physical city, which was termed as «mapping». Lynch discussed the probelms of «identity» — an ability to differentiate city structures by social subjects, their comfortable «recognition» and creation of emotional comfort. Lynch developed Boston mental map based on the interviews with the city-dwellers. He asked his respondents to describe, sketch or make an imaginary tour around the city, pointing out their routine itineraries through the city environment. The answers of the respondents were entered on the map of the central part of Boston.
My research analyzed not only the structure of the urban environment, but also places which are important, significant, popular and unpopular with children in a provincial town. I conducted a similar study (questionnaire) among 10−16 year old schoolchildren in Velsk (a town in the Arkhangelsk Region of Russia, with the total number of the population 30,000 people). In September and October 2014, 250 drawings were collected, where schoolchildren depicted their popular/unpopular spots, places of disquiet, and hideouts of their native town. The study demonstrated a significant difference in the perception of the urban environment by these teenagers, depending on their age, duration of full-time residence, means of travelling around the town (on foot, by bicycle, by car). For example, young dwellers ofVelsk, who daily move around the
Section 3. Theory and history of culture
town on foot, have a more vivid, more lived-in, more connotative perception of their native town. Places of disquiet of the Velsk schoolchildren are essentially different from those of the schoolchildren, living in mega-cities. These are not transit places (like metro
The pencil drawing of boy 11 years
These are the places, which anthropologists, beginning with the British scientist Mary Douglas, have been calling «polluted» and «dirty» in the primitive communities. The French philosopher and post-structuralist Michael Foucault named these places «heterotopias» — places which are simultaneously «isolated and penetrable» (M. Foucault’s «Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias»). Surprisingly, fear of such places and their evasion still remain in our culture. In the last decade heterotopias in big city have considerably changed. All theses changes
and railway stations, bus stops, and pedestrian subways), but rather places of strong archetypal nature, like the cemetery, the morgue, the hospital, and the mental health facility. For example, the places of disquiet in form the cemetery:
The pencil drawing of girls 13 years
bring forth a creation of a new urban sensitivity and a more active use of the urban territory as a communicative area. Urban heterotopias cease to be isolated spaces, and this creates the need for understanding the ongoing changes and studying the preparedness of the urban dwellers for them. But, what will in the small cities? The research work in studying «the image of the provincial town», experiences of heterotopias and their role in forming Modern Urban Heterotopias it is the main aim of the study in future.
1. Lynch K. Good City Form. Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London: The MIT Press, 1981.
2. Foucault M. Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias at http: //foucault. info/documents/heterotopia/foucault. heterotopia. en. html

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