Almost forgot…quick session update: Geographies of Enthusiasm: Exploration and Fieldwork. We are pleased to announce the inclusion of a paper by Luke Bennett (Sheffield Hallam University):
Defensive enthusiasm: anoraks, bunkers and the erotics of knowledge
In his seminal Bunker Archeology (1994: 11) Paul Virilio describes the moment in the late 1950s that he suddenly ‘noticed’ the ubiquitous abandoned Nazi coastal bunkers of the Atlantikwall. He asks himself “why would these extraordinary constructions, compared to seaside villas, not be perceived or even recognised?” and thereafter commits himself to “hunt[ing] these grey forms until they would transmit to me a part of their mystery”. This paper will examine the ways in which contemporary bunker-hunters enchant the UK’s own more modest twentieth century concrete defensive structures through the enthusiastic attention that they lavish upon these prosaic ‘non-places’ (Augé 1995). The paper will outline the diverse range of motivations and methods that can be found amongst these ‘bunkerologists’ and focus in on the ways in which genres and their associated communities of practice (Fish 1980; Wenger 1998) shape how bunkerology is performed through accounts of hunting and finding as circulated in online and book-based texts. Here we will find the pleasure of systemic research, co-ordinated exchange and circulation of spatial knowledge about these places, in short performance of “the erotics of knowledge” (de Certeau, 1988; Bordieu 2010). Following in the footsteps of Haakonssen (2009), the paper will examine the enthusiasts’ active projection of a variety of meanings onto these blank structures (patriotism, the abject, solitude, archaeology, architecture) and (invoking Garfinkel (1967), Goffman (1971) and Orbuch (1997)) performers’ active negotiation of identity in their self-deprecating portrayal of their bunker-hunting to fellow enthusiasts, and to the sceptical audience of their families and wider communities.
Incidentally, my first ever conference paper at the RGS-IBG in 2005 had ‘anorak’ in the title – I think it might also have had ‘rivet counter’.
Plus, if you haven’t already, but are interested, please sign up to the guided tour of Modernist Edinburgh taking place during the conference. Link can be found on RGS Annual Conference website. This tour accompanies our session on exploration and fieldwork.
Finally, we are also hoping to showcase our collaboration with The Twentieth Century Society via the Chair’s sessions on ‘Civic Geographies’. That is all.