Conference season

Conference season is upon us. The time of the year when academics and aspiring academics must forge hard and probing questions about the nature of our very existence and then leave them dangling there. I could fill up the year and empty out my bank account with call for papers  right now. I am committed to three however: the Nordic Geographers’ Conference, the Conference of Irish Geographers (see below) and then the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (ISASR), this year at UCD. I get the sense that the organizers have latched on to some Gathering-geist for their theme. The good thing about conference themes of course is that they are often ignored. Here’s my paper’s abstract, although, of course, the deadline for sending them has been extended:

This paper is concerned with a project to digitise Catholic parishes, carried out by UCC, NUIM and the Irish Bishops’ Conference since 2008. The project faces significant technical challenges: scanning, geo-referencing and tidying up these representations of a Catholic Ireland in retreat is a time-consuming process. In five years, the project has been working through these challenges. The institutional Catholic Church insists that no square kilometre can exist outside of a parish. This carries with it a number of assumptions about local politics as well as the Church’s mission, but also creates difficulties for representing parishes that are not based on territory, for example the Parish of the Travelling People.

 This paper presents an overview of the digitising project. While it outlines some of the technical challenges, it also reflects on the broader epistemological issues raised by the process. Making these maps is not only a question of drawing lines but about people’s understanding of their locality, often more oral than cartographic. What kinds of religious attachments arise when the parish, central to the Irish Catholic experience, is not territorial?

I’m not going with my thesis material this year because right now that is all inside and on paper. To be quite frank, I’m a little bored with thesis material and expect to be more bored with it as the year goes on. This is part of the objectification that is expected of compiling and submitting a thesis for examination, or so I keep telling myself.

In the same theme, Stephen Rigney and I have put together a sessions call for the Conference of Irish Geographers in Galway this May. Here’s the call:

Session Title: Community Geographies

Session Organisers: Stephen Rigney and Eoin O’Mahony, Geography, NUI Maynooth

Session Abstract
Community geography is a wide ranging and often misunderstood area of geographic research. This session is designed to bring together researchers, teachers and community activists who share an interest in community geographies in an Irish context. Papers covering all aspects of community geography including walking geographies, community mapping, public geographic resources are welcome.