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Finding One Place in Another: Post/Phenomenology, Memory and Deja Vu

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>28/04/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Social and Cultural Geography
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date28/04/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Inspired by something that occurred to me during a walking holiday in Scotland, this article identi-fies a new dimension to place memory: namely, the way in which we can be unexpectedly reminded of one place in another that is, on first inspection, very different. Reflecting on this phenomenon vis-à-vis my own long-distance walks through landscapes that are strikingly different in visual terms has led me to propose (similar to Hayden Lorimer) that topographical features such as slope, camber and terrain are key to such embodied memories and help explain why they are, on occasion, trans-portable. Such a proposition speaks both to the specificity and generic qualities of topographical place. This thesis is then used as the springboard for a dialogue with the post-phenomenological ap-proaches to landscape developed by John Wylie and others regarding the existential (im)possibility of there being any ‘coincidence’ between ‘self and world’. My counter-argument proceeds via an exploration of different models of memory - in particular, Henri Bergson’s work on ‘habit memory’ and déjà-vu - which helps explain our fleeting sensations of familiarity and belonging to particular locations. By this means, the notional indifference of the landscape (as construed by the post-phenomenologists) is emplaced. These conclusions return the discussion to wider debates in cultural geography about what we stand to lose, and exclude, through the move from phenomenological to post-phenomenological frameworks.