Jessica Mills

Project Title: (2011) What’s The Point?: The Meaning of Place, Memory, and Community in Point Saint Charles, Quebec. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

Thesis Link: http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/7282/

In Point Saint Charles (The Point), concepts of place, memory, class, and community cannot be understood in isolation. As the area undergoes socio-economic changes, the struggle over what The Point is, how it got there, and who belongs within it, is contested. The public history of industrialization and industrial decline contributes to a homogenous memory of class that is threatened by gentrification. This reinforces a defensive stance compounded by negative experiences of “urban renewal”. However, the gentrification underway does not fit the traditional model, complicating these themes considerably. This thesis traces the shifting temporal and spatial understandings of place, exploring the fluid nature of The Point’s symbolic and physical boundaries - how they came to be and how they inform public history, place attachment, and the use of community. These meanings are contributing to the creation of a “community of memory” negotiated predominantly through social media sites. “Pointers” are smoothing out conflicting memories, and silencing dissent within the group, while asserting difference from “others”. The construction of this community represents a struggle over place identity made manifest by gentrification and is highly nostalgic. This use of community no longer requires residency for inclusion, instead “Pointers” depend on symbols, rituals, and a flexible notion of time to carve out a space of acceptance.

 

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