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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
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There were several issues brought up in class that I want to think about: first of all, in response to Ömür’s question of how we come to an understanding of landscape as a complex environment of different processes affecting and intermingled with each other, creating a meshwork of relationships, particular materialities, temporalities and spatialities in the long-term? In this particular question, what struck me most was the discussion of temporalities: in class, we talked about places as events, where space and time come together (cf. Casey 36). But if a place is partially dependent on time, when meanings are gathered from the landscape rather than simply applied to it (as Ingold asserts), then does the “places as events” concept imply that a place becomes different, from event to event? If place is equally constituted and constitutive, as Casey puts it, then how does one reconcile “places” as spatially anchored, but created through different events?
This, I think, falls back to the conversation we had about Knapp and Ashmore’s idea of a holistic landscape. All the “-scapes” and spheres of a place must be taken into account, from the economic to the sacred. For instance, Brad talked about quarries as not simply the processual idea of “landscape as resource,” but as places that we must consider – because surely the past peoples who worked in and around them considered them – as more than just mechanically economic. Thinking about landscapes this way, as multiple spheres within a chronologically horizontal plane, makes it easier to recognize the chronologically vertical overlap between places as events. These events, these places, cannot change absolutely from event to event, because there is always overlap, continuity from one sphere to another.
Another topic of discussion that struck me was Emily’s suggestion that the Egyptian creation myth, like the creation myths of so many cultures, are based on place. In fact, I have been hard put to think of any creation myths that are not, in one way or another, somehow anchored to a place (but please inform me if this is not true!). This is particularly interesting to me because I have been reading a lot about cognitive theory, which has become a big topic in religious studies in recent years. The premise is, in short, that as humans we are all born with a basic template that is modified by cultural factors (and, perhaps, even the landscape?) as we age. If creation-in-place is, in fact, a universal among myths, then it just goes to show that attachment to place is something primordial – we cannot divorce who we are from a place, and that goes back as far as we can conceptualize the world.
Posted at Mar 01/2009 05:24PM:
Omur: Sarah, you posed some very interesting questions in this piece. Concerning your question about changing places from event to event, I would like to suggest to think of it this way: the reason why we consider events and places as inseparable (thus sometimes I call them "event-places" others "place-events") is precisely because that those events never coming to existence independent of their places of eruption. To say it in other words, events are generated by places- and we can never consider places as mere containers where events just serendipitously happen to take place. For instance, the massive riots and destruction of a mosque happened in Ayodhya, India in the 90s, after quite a few centuries of religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims and a few decades of rising antagonism. It could not have happened elsewhere. In a way places nurture, or better raise events in their own realm as energies accumulate in a very located way. I hope we can further this discussion in class. So fascinating.
The area of cognitive theory is very ripe and relevant. What have you been reading?. I hope you can share some with us.