Journey in a Life Story and Pilgrimage: Exploring the Connection between Humans and Place in a First-Person Narrative
AbstractThis paper will explore the relationship between humans and place mediated in first-person narratives. By focusing on episodes that reveal the change in the ordinary role of the person, we examine how they describe the place and how they perceive the environment in their changed role. Drawing on interviews with a man who has walked a pilgrimage/hiking trail as well as a written life story from the collections of the Estonian Cultural History Archives, we analyse the description of modern journeys and the journeys that took place in the vortex of events during World War II. We suggest that the descriptions of place-making under consideration are related not only to subjective experiences and storytelling skills, but also to more general contexts, such as historical-political, economic, or religious frames. Comparing various kinds of place-making description we attempt to find the universal and context-sensitive aspects of journey descriptions. Finally, based on studies of oral history and cultural borders on the one hand, and pilgrimage studies on the other, a methodological question is asked: how should one apply these research methods and results to place-making research? Combining these research methods has turned out to be fruitful in creating a dialogue between experiences that have been formed in different circumstances, and through this to understand better the factors determining one’s sense of place.
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