Critical Toponymies: The Contested Politics of Place Naming, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Critical Toponymies

The Contested Politics of Place Naming, 1st Edition

By Jani Vuolteenaho

Edited by Lawrence D. Berg


306 pages

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While place names have long been studied by a few devoted specialists, approaches to them have been traditionally empiricist and uncritical in character. This book brings together recent works that conceptualize the hegemonic and contested practices of geographical naming. The contributors guide the reader into struggles over toponymy in a multitude of national and local contexts across Europe, North America, New Zealand, Asia and Africa. In a ground-breaking and multidisciplinary fashion, this volume illuminates the key role of naming in the colonial silencing of indigenous cultures, canonization of nationalistic ideals into nomenclature of cities and topographic maps, as well as the formation of more or less fluid forms of postcolonial and urban identities.


'Critical Toponymies brings together for the first time under one cover a series of key articles about the control of space through naming practices. From the house to the street to the nation to the globe, place names are laden with human stories, silences, and struggles that continually face off against bureaucratic and linguistic control. If anything, the volume teaches that to name something is not, after all, to know it.' Karen M. Morin, Bucknell University, USA

Table of Contents

Contents: Towards critical toponymies, Jani Vuolteenaho and Lawrence D. Berg; Naming as norming: 'race', gender and the identity politics of naming places in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Lawrence D. Berg and Robin A. Kearns; Naming the past: the significance of commemorative street names, Maoz Azaryahu; Street-naming and nation-building: toponymic inscriptions of nationhood in Singapore, Brenda S. Yeoh; Naming and placing the other: power and the urban landscape in Zanzibar, Garth Andrew Myers; The Aloha State: place names and the anti-conquest of Hawai'i, Douglas Herman; Irish place-names: post-colonial locations, Catherine Nash; Proclaiming place: towards a geography of place name pronunciation, Robin A. Kearns and Lawrence D. Berg; Street names as memorial arenas: the reputational politics of commemorating Martin Luther King Jr in a Georgia county, Derek H. Alderman; Indexing the great ledger of the community: urban housing, numbering, city directories and the production of spatial legibility, Reuben S. Rose-Redwood; Planning and revamping urban toponymy: ideological alterations in the linguistic landscaping of Vuosaari suburb, eastern Helsinki, Jani Vuolteenaho and Teri Ainiala; Toponymic silence and Sámi place names during the growth of the Norwegian nation state, Kaisa Rautio Helander; Virtual place naming, internet domains, and the politics of misdirection: the case of, Derek H. Alderman; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Dr Lawrence D. Berg is from the University of British Columbia, Canada and Dr Jani Vuolteenaho is from the University of Helsinki, Finland

About the Series

Re-materialising Cultural Geography

Re-materialising Cultural Geography
Nearly 25 years have elapsed since Peter Jackson’s seminal call to integrate cultural geography back into the heart of social geography. During this time, a wealth of research has been published which has improved our understanding of how culture both plays a part in, and in turn, is shaped by social relations based on class, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, age, sexuality and so on. In spite of the achievements of this mountain of scholarship, the task of grounding culture in its proper social contexts remains in its infancy. This series therefore seeks to promote the continued significance of exploring the dialectical relations which exist between culture, social relations and space and place. Its overall aim is to make a contribution to the consolidation, development and promotion of the ongoing project of re-materialising cultural geography.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography