Wandering in the woods. Forest-human relations in archival oral folklore
In this research project I will wander through forests: forests of oral folklore, forests of the mind and various concrete forests. My project primarily explores the relationship between humans and natural environments through science, but also through art. I will also explore what the forest means in folklore and other oral traditions and what kinds of embodied experiences and meanings it carries. My sites of passage are archived oral tradition from the 16th century to the 20th century, written memoir from the 21st century, natural environments understood as forests around us, and forests of the imagination. My approach is body phenomenological, but I also reflect on walking in forests from a posthumanist, postcolonial and history of mentalities perspective: how do people describe their relationship with forests, swamps, or water bodies? How is this relationship described, how is it communicated? They also often situate themselves in the other: for example, they speak at the mouth of a forest or a lake.
What do they say? And what kind of forest do we have in our minds? Although all linguistic culture is human-made, linguistic materials, initially oral and later textualized, can be used to read human bodily experience and attitudes towards other living and non-living environments and, in a limited sense, the relationship of these entities to the human being. Ultimately, therefore, how the human being has thought of them as relating to him or herself and how they view him or her. This is a new perspective in a context in which it is necessary for human to begin to relate to his habitats and other species from their point of view