Embodied Cartographies: Archaeology, art and the making of place-scapes

woman's head with topographical lines overlaid

Tuesday 17 May 2022, 5pm
SAB204, King Alfred Quarter, University of Winchester, SO22 4NR

This is the first seminar presented by our Peoplescapes Research Centre.


‘Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it is one of them. It is caught in the fabric of the world’
Maurice Merleau Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception

The French philosopher Rene Descartes saw our mind and body as separate entities. In his model of human interaction with space, humans just moved through space without engaging with it. An embodied approach to personal spaces (or maps, cartographies) sees us moving through space, thinking and feeling and sensing and using our whole bodies. Moving around space is thus a dynamic and sensual experience, it isn’t just a method of getting from A to B.  

How can we access an awareness of the relationships that exist between people, place and ‘scape’?  In this transdisciplinary presentation, the idea of an embodied cartography will be explored drawing on evidence from sites in Armenia, Ireland and the UK and combined with a praxis of philosophy, art and walking. I define embodied cartography as  the making of place through the sensorial body, or conceptual mapping created by bodily experience. This raises questions such as: how do we give meaning to place and space? What emotional attachments do we make with place and space?

This lecture will offer a ground breaking and imaginative way of looking at human interaction with space, emphasising the whole bodily experience, and all the senses.

Fay Stevens is an archaeologist and award-winning lecturer and researcher. She has worked in archaeological projects in Armenia, Europe and the UK and has travelled on academic research including Syria, Jordan, USA and Japan. She specializes in the philosophy of phenomenology in archaeology and was part of a ground-breaking project at UCL developing phenomenological research methods and thinking in landscape archaeology. This includes research into cultural perceptions of water and the development of sustainable thinking in transdisciplinary contexts.

Fay is a trained archaeological illustrator with a developed practice in conceptual drawing. She has held artistic residences in England, Scotland, Hungary and Spain, curated visual and performance art events around the UK and exhibited her work in the UK, Berlin, Sweden and Japan.


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