Attachments to Liberty

Attachments to Liberty

Attachments to Liberty

Our Role

  • Ethnographic research
  • Institutional collaboration

Attachments to Liberty

An ethnography of Liberty Island for the National Park Service

As project director for this National Park Service research, Gabrielle worked with Setha Low & Yvonne Hung to build an ethnographic understanding of connections to the Statue, and a typology of place attachment.

This project sought to understand groups of people’s personal and cultural relationships with, and recurrent patterns of use of, Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty. It is part of the National Park Service’s ongoing commitment to documenting the meaning and significance of each park’s natural and cultural resources to traditionally associated peoples and other groups, and utilizing this information in park planning, management and interpretation.

“understanding connections to the Park through the concept of place attachment”

Though the National Park Service (NPS) is primarily concerned with the relationships of “traditionally associated people,” because of a lack of traditional users and the depth of attachment to the Statue of Liberty, we decided with the park that, in this case, this criterion of traditional association was not the most appropriate. Hence, the project shifted the paradigm of research and organization of data to understanding connections to the Park through the concept of “place attachment.”

Place attachment is the way people build connections to physical places through personal and cultural experiences. Building from the place attachment literature and our analysis, we created an expanded set of place attachment categories. The methodology used in understanding these connections was ethnographic, including interviews, participant observation, photography, literature review and archival work. From this process, we developed an extensive report that has helped the Park understand and plan for the complex web of “users” with connections to the site.

Please contact us if you would like to read the full report.

Our Role

  • Ethnographic research
  • Institutional collaboration