Accepted Paper:

Enchanting landscapes: ancestors, people, 'nature' and 'heritage'  

Author:

Jenny Blain

Paper short abstract:

This paper will explore dimensions of seeing landscape variously as cultured or cultural, ‘culturing’, or possibly ‘enchanting’, raising questions on implications of ancestors and landscape for identities of today and for developments of reflexive social theory.

Paper long abstract:

Historically within social sciences, 'animism' has been used to signal otherness, a 'superstitious' belief or faith in directive or authoritarian non-human entities. If, rather, 'animism' is interpreted to mean the possibility of relationships between human and other-than-human people, within a 'living landscape,' in which all players, be they stones, sparrows or social scientists, have their part, how does this influence both spiritual practices and the interpretative repertoires with which we attempt to account for those practices?

This paper will explore dimensions of seeing landscape variously as cultured or cultural, 'culturing', or possibly 'enchanting'. How are relationships of place and humans constructed and reported in practitioner discourse? Examples of (human) practitioners in this paper include spiritual practitioners engaging with 'ancestors', and heritage tourists exploring 'who they think they are' within 'heritage' contexts of Britain. Contexts therefore range from bronze-age burials, to Victorian graveyards. The paper raises questions on the importance of ancestors and landscape for identities for today. And it deals with how we, as reflexive practitioners of social research, can reflect, theorise, and learn from these happenings.

Panel P24
British landscape, heterotopia and 'new animism'