Dear departed: writing the lifeworlds of place

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This paper is concerned with the lifeworlds of place, and the significant part that the storied word might play in them. It considers the modern disciplinary history of place study, and styles of creative geographical writing presently being employed to configure place as a lived phenomenon, with a past, present and future. Across the piece, an experiment in place?portraiture unfolds, according to a series of episodes penned in non?fiction prose. The muse for these meditations is an arresting site reserved for burying the remains of loved ones: a seaside pet cemetery. Deep diving into the cemetery's place lore, and the life of its custodian, ?The Keeper,? the essay explores the loss, love and longing felt for domestic companion animals by grieving humans, the better to understand a nexus of geographies; variously, of memory, emotion, intimacy, responsibility and creativity. The essay closes by reflecting on how a sustained fusion of site, subject and style can give voice to a language of radical parochialism and, simultaneously, reset the wider representational project by which geographers engage proprietary feelings about place, its presumed fate and possible prospects. In its avoidance of a more conventional academic mode, and adoption of descriptive geographical narratives, the paper offers an alternate literary model by which pressing environmental challenges might yet be affectively articulated and addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-345
Number of pages15
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number2
Early online date16 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


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