The Theoretical Background of Understanding Urban Identity in the Anthropological Perspective


  • Maksym Karpovets National University of Ostroh Academy, Department of Cultural Studies, Ukraine



Urban identity, cultural landscape, everyday life, anthropology, urban anthropology, philosophical anthropology, philosophy


In the article, the theoretical background of the interpretation of urban identity is given using examples from anthropological studies. Urban identity is interpreted in terms of corporeality, memory and history of the city, and community. It is interpreted as a conflict of own and alien, anonymous and public, unique and secondary parts inside the cultural space of identity. The anthropology of the city offers a range of perspectives in the interpretation of identity, particularly in the context of corporeality. Another important thing is the cultural connection with history and memory. The defining fea­ture of identity is the way of creating its own (hi)story of the city. Urban identity also appears to be the preservation of the symbolic capital of the city, including certain values, customs, rules, legends etc. Moreover, it gives rise to a permanent exploration of sustained ways of its transmission to the next generations. The findings of different anthropological studies illustrate the complex character of the phenomenon and intro­duce possible theoretical frames for further understanding.


Al-Zubaidi, Layla. Urban Anthropology – An Overview. Accessed March 26, 2014.

Basham, Richard. Urban Anthropology: The Cross-Cultural Study of Complex Societies. Palo Alto, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1978.

Bhandari, Amrit Kumar. “Urban Anthropology: An Overview of the Discipline and Scope.” Himalayan Journal of Sociology & Anthropology 4 (2010): 1–14.

Borer, Michael I. “The Location of Culture: The Urban Culturalist Perspective.” City & Community 5 (2006): 173–97.

Cassirer, Ernst. An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture. Hamburg: Meiner Verlag, 2006.

Castells, Manuel. The Power of Identity. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

Curtis, Barry. “That Place Where: Some Thoughts on Memory and the City.” In The Unknown City, edited by Iain Borden, Jain Kerr, and Alicia Pivaro, 54–68. Cam¬bridge, London: The MIT Press, 2002.

De Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univer¬sity of California Press, 2011.

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

Jacobs, Jane. Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House Inc., 1997.

Lalli, Marco. “Urban-related Identity: Theory, Measurement, and Empirical Findings.” Journal of Environmental Psychology 12 (1992): 285–303.

Lopes de Souza, Marcelo. “Which Right to Which City?” Interface 2 (2010): 315–33.

Lynch, Kevin. The Image of the City. Cambridge, London: The MIT Press, 1960.

Merleau-Ponty, Moris. Phenomenology of Perception. London and Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962.

Ricoeur, Paul. Oneself as Another. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Scheler, Max. The Nature of Sympathy. Hamden: Archon Books, 1973.

Schutz, Alfred. On Phenomenology and Social Relations. Chicago: University Of Chi¬cago Press, 1999.

Scott, Alex. Paul Ricoeur’s Oneself as Another. Accessed June 19, 2012.

Simmel, Georg. The Metropolis and Mental Life. Oxford and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Wirth, Louis. “Urbanism as a Way of Life.” The American Journal of Sociology 44 (1938): 1–24.