Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Pratyusha Basu


Boundaries, Cultural Landscapes, Humanistic Geography, Long Term Residents, Sense of Place, Unincorporated Communities



Residents of communities that are at the edge of the rural-urban divide are likely to have many senses of place reflective of the changes occurring around them. As the place where they have resided in and identify with becomes transformed by changes in land use and social composition, these residents may be forced to either adapt or leave. Often overlooked, these individuals may feel as if the place where they have long resided is no longer their home. As the familiar routes, stores, and neighborhoods give way to new highways, big name stores, and exclusive subdivisions, their understanding of its sense of place becomes challenged.

This thesis seeks to understand changing senses of place among residents in Lutz, an unincorporated community at the edge of the city of Tampa in Florida. Using a humanistic geography approach which focuses on individual perceptions, nine semi-structured interviews were conducted on questions related to community boundaries, everyday experiences of demographic and land use transformations, and possible futures of the community. Further background on the community was collected by traveling through it and analyzing media accounts which provided both historical and contemporary perspectives on its cultural landscapes.

One of the main findings of this thesis is that the unincorporated nature of this community adds a unique dimension to discussions of its socio-spatial transformations since the role of boundaries in sense of place becomes complicated here. Thus, in contrast to firm lines drawn by cartographers or postal agencies, cultural boundaries have a high degree of subjectivity and are often at odds with official demarcations. Overall, this thesis highlights the value of focusing on residents of unincorporated communities in order to build more complex notions of place-based identities.

Included in

Geography Commons