Narrative maps of danger as a means of subjective psychological protection
Reet Hiiemäe (Estonian Literary Museum)
Paper short abstract:
The focus of my paper is on narrative maps of danger in urban space. Some examples from the recent years will illustrate how such maps can be seen as examples of selective collecting and remembering of information and as triggers of specific protective behavior of people.
Paper long abstract:
The focus of my paper is on narrative maps of danger in urban space. Based on oral narratives, narratives from the media and personal experiences, mental mapping of urban space takes place - some places are perceived as dangerous, others as safe, and specific behavior is chosen respectively. The aim of my paper is to show how danger caused by moving danger sources (criminals, insane people) is being fixed to certain locations so that the dangerousness of such persons is transferred to the places on the landscape. Such maps can be seen as examples of selective collecting, processing and remembering of information and as triggers of specific protective behavior of people. When comparing contemporary narrating and older belief narratives about mythological dangers, it becomes clear that there are similarities in the process of mental mapping in both cases; characteristic is a simplified, black-and-white way of representing information, the suggestion to avoid danger areas and instructions to behave "correctly" while in danger epicentre. It is noteworthy that subjectively perceived fears and places connected with them in urban space are often solely based on recurring narratives in the media (and not on the person's real-life experiences of dangerous situations), thus creating a certain media- and narrative-based imaginary world of danger and protection. I will illustrate my observations with some examples and their reflection in newspapers and their commentaries, internet forums and interviews.
Ethnographies of urban public spaces