Public defence of a doctoral thesis 14.11.2008
Public defence of a doctoral thesis: researcher Ilkka Luoto, Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius
Master of social sciences, Ilkka Luoto’s academic dissertation in the field of geography, is to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the lecture hall L10, on 14th of November, 2008, at 12 noon.
Texts of place and their spirit. Guidance to geosemiotics – a travelogue to the cultural core of place. 235 p. Nordia Geographical Publications 37: 2, Department of Geography, University of Oulu.
Opponent: Doctor of Philosophy Päivi Kymäläinen from the University of Turku. Custodian: Professor Pauli Tapani Karjalainen from the University of Oulu.
The event will be held in Finnish.
The spirit of place wells from the fissure of reality and fiction
Places, regions and even nations are currently actively promoted. Spirit of place – genius loci – is as yet unchained and taking a path of its own. In this research, which belongs to the field of semiotic geography, ultimately asks, is it possible on the whole, to define or control spirit of place, and if it is, how and where is the spirit of place formed?
The literary arc of the research follows the route of a travelogue through six rural villages in Finland (Fiskari, Äkäslompolo and Tuuri) and in Scotland (Drumnadrochit, Dufftown and Baile Mór). On his way the researcher encounters touristy places and narrative cultures. Enteries in the travelogue are mixed with personal experience history supported by subjective memory. Original naïve enthusiasm turns to astonishment, then to suspicion perforated by poststructuralism and finally metaphorical hope.
Language binds humans into places. Places read as texts, contain tensions which are conflicting, but which also strengthen each other. For example, marketing texts elevate the expectation value of a place which can turn to disappointment when faced with the reality of a visit. On the other hand, the same disappointment can change in a moment, when local myths, hints and legends awaken curiosity or even wider public interest.
According to the research, a deeper structural connection of language, experience and place indicates that we are perceiving and thinking by means of places. In other words, a place ties perception to signs and meanings. A place is also a merging point for more extensive cultural meanings and narratives. These narratives bind or separate the users of place by making or demolishing the common identity base.
In the practice of language and postmodern media, any place can always be refound or seen from the perspective of a new user group. Interesting places are enveloped by illusory cobwebs but synchronized by human activities. An elusive “spirit” of place can be explained as tensions between the text qualities. That, which is at the same time real and fictional, is a retreat for the permanently tensional spirit or hope.