"The land tells our story": urban native place-making and implications for wellness
Lynch, Kathleen Ann
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In this mixed-methods community-based participatory research project I examine the ways in which sense of place (or lack thereof) is developed for Native Americans living in the urban Boston area, and the implications this has for physical health and social well-being. Through in-depth interviews, ethnographic data, and community photo-voice, I argue that a triad of Place, Stress, and Identity configure and act upon the bodies of urban Natives in complex ways, creating a paradoxical sense of place in the city. Each analytical chapter examines particular interactions of this triad: place as a physical and socially-experienced phenomenon, the interactions of place and stress, the process of "place-making", and social stress surrounding “urban Native” identity. Developing a framework of “place/body multiple” (Eyles and Williams 2007, Scheper-Hughes and Lock 1987; see background chapter), these chapters build toward the argument that, in contrast to “sense of place” literature that focuses on reservations (see Background Chapter), urban “sense of place” operates within what I term a “landscape of distress.” Forming an urban “sense of place” is beneficial to overall well-being because it leads to support networks and creates a proxy for “home”, building on current literature on social support and anthropological literature on Indigenous place-making. However, it is also detrimental to health because it creates an identity that is inherently separate from tribe and traditional land, creating both social and physiological distress.