Accepted Paper:

'Being at home outside in nature': ethnography of the use and appropriation of the Swabian Alb  
Carmen Weith (Universität Tübingen)

Paper short abstract:

The talk, which is based on an ongoing dissertation project, concerns the question of how people create a feeling of ‘being at home’ in nature in their leisure time. An account is given of the cultural practices by which people experience an emotional connection with the Swabian Alb.

Paper long abstract:

The empirical study that is the basis of the talk focuses on the ways in which people experience a feeling of 'being at home' by means of emotional engagement with the nature of the Swabian Alb in southern Germany. The study addresses the question of what strategies people employ in order to make themselves at home in their spatial surroundings, as well as the question of how they interpret and ascribe meanings to their spatial surroundings. The cultural practices reveal how performative confrontations with the (material, social, cultural, etc.) pre-conditions in a given space give rise to the significant places and surfaces that individuals need. The study aims thereby to shed light upon the relationship between postmodern individuals and nature, a relationship which is characterized by the need for balance and serenity. The data we have gathered has revealed a central role for the 'sensory perceptions' which are to be the topic of panel 202 an which are taken to be an elementary means of binding individuals to their surroundings.

On the methodological level, how can an enquiry into bodily practices yield knowledge about the experiential space of the Swabian Alb? The talk will utilize the practical report to address the ethnographic possibilities for approaching sensory and emotional experience and the feeling of 'being at home' that results from them. The aim will be to show how it is possible to take advantage of the potential of various approaches, such as 'mental maps', substitutive questionnaires and 'go-alongs'.

Panel P324
Home: landscape, imagination and practices of everyday life