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My research investigates pilgrimage practices, as an embodied mobility, in contemporary Ireland. Pilgrimage is a distinctly spatial human behaviour, involving performances that are centred on specific places. Insights offered by the ‘mobilities turn‘ within the social sciences, which has highlighted the significance of movement, fluidity and the nomadic in shaping the world, inform this approach. Utilising the ontological framework of the new mobilities paradigm with insights from nonrepresentational geographies, pilgrimage is engaged with as an embodied mobility.
The practice of pilgrimage can be seen as a process involving the subjects (pilgrims) and the spaces (sacred places/landscapes) both being defined by and, even, emerging through their interactions with each other.
This study involves frameworks and approaches that can considered pilgrimage in terms of both the representational (understandings, narratives, ideologies) and the practical/ nonrepresentational (embodied experiences, beliefs, sensual). This requires the consideration of methodological challenges in attempts to access and capture a holistic appreciation of pilgrimage (including the experiential and sensual, as much as the observable and representable) as it is occurring in place.
The adoption of an ethnographic methodology allows for the integration of the theoretical framework of the new mobilities paradigm, with particular reference to the geographies of mobilities, and a selection of research methods. Such an approach allows for a blend of the strength of ethnography, as a methodology that privileges direct contact with people in place, and more recent innovations that aim to get closer to the actual practices as they are occurring, so to access and to capture them in real time. This mobility ethnography consists of a collection of complementary methods: participant observation, photography, audio-visual recording, interviews, and visual and documentary research.
GG2014 Geography of Tourism
This module will examine the rapidly changing geographical relationships and environmental impacts of the tourist industry. Particular attention will be focused on the geography of tourism in Ireland and Western Europe generally. Special emphasis will also be placed on the expanding heritage industry in Ireland.
GG3037 Geography of Heritage
This module examines the meaning of heritage in contemporary societies. It will specifically deal with issues of conservation and representation. Important heritage landscapes continue to be threatened by modern development. By focusing on specific case studies, it will examine the value placed on heritage in society. The politics of heritage will also be explored. Questions of identity, nationalism, and multiculturalism are central then to any discussion of the geography of heritage.
GG3049 Historical Geographies of Ireland: Social, Economic and Cultural Transformations
To provide a comprehensive understanding of how Irish society, economy and culture has changed over time. To identify and examine the processes that underpin change. The module places social, economic and cultural change in a national and international context.
GG2022 Field Work
In lectures students will be introduced to the cultural, economic, historical and physical background of the area they are to study. Students will then spend seven days based in a location either in Ireland or abroad during which time they will carry out assignments that require the use of geographical field research methods, attend visits/lectures on local issues and discuss issues related to research in the area at course seminars.