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Dissertation Title:

Looking Homeward: Place Attachment and Forced Relocation


Rita Rispoli Porter

Date, Time & Place:

September 4, 2015 at 5:00 pm
Studio, Lambert Road campus


This qualitative study examined the psychological construct of place attachment in Louisiana and Mississippi residents [N = 6] who experienced forced relocation in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina and ensuing events. The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experiences related to place attachment of relocated individuals who returned home and those who did not.

Using phenomenological methodology, the study yielded five common themes from the experiences of the participants: (1) home as the primary place of attachment; (2) neighborhood places as supportive settings; (3) the return decision as a significant life stressor; (4) psychological distress magnified by inconsistent disaster recovery responses; (5) the transition process. Sub-themes included: (a) multidimensional conceptualizations of home; (b) the first post-disaster visit; (c) levels of apperception and significance of place; (d) fluid boundaries of place; (e) emergent feelings and protective resilience processes; (f) the kindness of strangers; (g) transitional objects. The study includes a review of place attachment literature, a discussion of negatively valenced places, and a description of place attachment reflected in popular culture and the arts.


**Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle to campus from the Best Western in Carpinteria due to Pacifica’s conditional use permit**

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology, Track O, 2007
  • Chair: Dr. Paula Thomson
  • Reader: Dr. Fred Wertz
  • External Reader: Dr. D'Ann Penner
  • Keywords: Place Attachment, Sense Of Place, Forced Relocation, Forced Migration, Displacement, Internally Displaced Persons, Hurricane Katrina