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(2015) Spatiality and symbolic expression, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Spatiality, place, and displacement in two gaelic songs

Lillis Ó Laoire

pp. 87-104

Henri Poincaré, an early but enduring theorist on spatiality, argued that "[a]bsolute space is nonsense, and it is necessary for us to begin by referring space to a system of axes invariably bound to our body."1 This chapter proceeds from a reading of this claim, arguing that it is culture, produced by acting bodies, which humanizes space and makes it into place. Recent critiques of space and place across a range of disciplines divide approaches to these concepts along two different lines, one of "the production of place by capital and global forces' and a second of the phenomenological and social, encompassing 'senses' or [a] "more generally cultural construction of place."2 The latter is the primary methodology followed here, although the chapter partially attempts to recognize the "advantages of cross-fertilising these two currents."3 The discussion centers on two songs from Tory Island, in County Donegal (Ireland), a subaltern Atlantic island culture, situated in what has come to be called the "Celtic Fringe."4 I will show that both texts represent coherently localized expressions of spatiality, place, and displacement, while the implications of transnational global flows are also evident. In one of the texts, the notion of "home" is evoked in significant and striking detail. That concept depends on an idea of "away" that foregrounds a dispiriting trajectory of instability and insecurity, emphasizing its fatal danger for those seeking their fortune abroad. This evocation longs vainly for the notion of the grounded, emplaced sense of belonging that characterizes home.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9781137488510_5

Full citation:

Ó Laoire, L. (2015)., Spatiality, place, and displacement in two gaelic songs, in B. Richardson (ed.), Spatiality and symbolic expression, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 87-104.

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