Thanks to the part sponsorship of the Geographical Society of Ireland, I am off to the Nordic Geographers’ Conference in June. The conference is in Reykjavik and so much of the first few days will be an attempt to understand why the sun hardly sets. Like some others I am planning for 2013 (CIG, ISASR), planning for these events means bending current research interests to suit conference themes. I’m speculating that this session is the best suited to where I am right now, about one year to go on my thesis. It is only an abstract and I’m hoping the organisers will accept it as a contribution to the workshop. Geographies or emotion and memory connects with my doctoral work but more particularly I want to ground the directly political nature of spatialised memory, if I can. To my mind, so much of that kind of academic work is currently about hand-waving.
“During 2010 and 2011 I conducted fieldwork in four sites of pilgrimage in Ireland and Spain, gathering data from my doctoral thesis. The fieldwork began as an exercise in non-participant observation; it ended on my knees in the rain on an island in a Donegal lake. I began by thinking about how to elicit pilgrim responses to the settings. I ended by walking a week of the Camino in Spain and three days of penitence in Lough Derg, Ireland.
How is memory spatialised and how memories might be theorized remains a significant challenge for geography. Those who provided accounts of walking on the Camino referred to memories in places. Those I spoke with at Lough Derg repeatedly referred to how difficult it was in the past. How does the embodied experience get translated into something spiritual? These little acts of translation are filled with the spatial. But how do places form memories and how are they translated into ‘the spiritual’? How is memory spatialised and what kinds of methods serve this process? My contribution (based on my fieldwork on pilgrimage) hopes to unpack some of these questions.”