Lost in Place

Lost in Place, Peter Monoghan, The
Chronicle of Higher Education

Geographer Yi-Fu Tuan may be the most influential scholar you’ve
never heard of, writes Peter Monoghan in The Chronicle of
Higher Education.
In an absolutely exquisite profile,
Monoghan describes Tuan’s humanistic approach to geography–a
belief that landscapes are as much about psychology as they are
about materiality. In lieu of focusing on the physical world
itself, Tuan centers on the way human beings inhabit that physical
space. And, in contrast to many poststructuralist geographers, he
is interested in what ‘being-in-the-world’ actually feels like. The
personal, to Tuan, is definitely political. Ironic, perhaps,
because Tuan’s own personal life as an academic is rather forlorn
and empty. The seventy-something professor is a lonely man who
believes life has passed him by. ‘I have skipped two critical
stages of life — marriage and parenthood,’ he says. ‘I have grown
old without having grown up.’ Even more heartbreaking though, is
Yi-Fu Tuan’s recent admission, unknown even to his longtime
colleagues, that he is a homosexual. Having repressed his physical
desires and urges for more than seven decades, Tuan claims that it
is simply too late for him. He speaks of his ‘aching desire for the
warmth of another human being’s body’ and points out that he lacks
the ‘one thing that ought to be every human being’s birthright —
namely, a beloved person to share cookies with before turning in to
–Anjula Razdan
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