Narrative maps or narrative utopias?
(University of Ioannina )
Paper short abstract:
This paper considers utopia as an inherent contradiction between a fading collective memory and a multifaceted narrative cartography, with specific reference to a small insular community in the SE Aegean.
Paper long abstract:
This paper considers utopia as an inherent contradiction between a fading collective memory and a multifaceted narrative cartography, with specific reference to a small insular community in the SE Aegean. Until very recently the community's collective memory and identity was weaved through commonly experienced life stories and supernatural encounters; these are now constantly challenged through tourism and globalisation processes. Narratives introduce temporality into space through landmarks which recall individual and collective experiences (cf. Tilley 1994: 33) - this goes much further than the simple use of place names. In our case study the dominant trends in this local narrative tradition change over time as different stories prevail, creating layers comparable to those in an excavation. The island's oral tradition repeats universal symbols, projects them on the landscape, makes landmarks, and creates a symbolic cartography and a local mythological system with its own dominant symbols and representations. The timeline of the island's history actually represents two phases interconnected through supernatural experiences in the community's space: one mythical prehistory that links the island with the goddess Calypso, and recent history in the historical context of modernity. This process of linking the landscape to specific narratives occurs in two distinct ways in our example; one potentially ephemeral through the mental projection of narratives upon landmarks, and one tangibly affecting it, with materially implemented symbols inducing collective memory.
Island ethnographies revisited: challenging utopias, re-evaluating heritage?