Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Experiences of Belonging and the Hermeneutics of Place

Roger W. H. Savage.

Forced and voluntary migrations within a transnational world evince the sense of homelessness experienced by uprooted and dislocated communities. Global economic networks regulate the heterogeneous spaces inhabited by socially, politically and economically exiled peoples. Yet, the experiences of belonging that ground a community’s identity in its shared history conflicts with these carceral spaces. Politics of difference presuppose these experiences when, through uncovering differential power relations that govern these spaces’ social construction, this politics advances the struggle for recognition. The hermeneutics of place engages this politics through a reflection on how experiences of belonging condition horizons of expectations for overcoming homelessness and exile.

By mediating between a phenomenology of place and critical diagnoses of hierarchically distributed, geographical power relations, the hermeneutics of place resituates the claim for recognition within the history of a community’s effort to exist. A community’s self-representation through its cultural signs and works attests to the power it exercises through its cultural and social imagination. The confrontation between a phenomenology that privileges situated experiences and human geographies that examine political and economic distributions of power necessitates a reflection on how imagination affects experiences of belonging. The temporal character of the experiences and expectations that shape a community’s understanding of itself attest to the fragility of this self-understanding within an increasingly global world. Resistance and struggle have real meaning only in the context of a history that is already at work in imagining and working toward alternatives that hold out the prospects for a just share in the world.


Roger W. H. Savage  (United States)
Associate Professor in Systematic Musicology
Department of Ethnomusicology
University of California, Los Angeles

Roger W. H. Savage is Associate Professor of Systematic Musicology in the Department of Ethnomusicology at UCLA. He teaches courses in the aesthetics, philosophy and sociology of music, and he has special interests in hermeneutical philosophy and music criticism. His research focuses on intersections between musical aesthetics, politics and questions of personal, social and cultural identity.

  • Belonging
  • Globalization
  • Place

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)