Mountains and memory: embodied visions of ancient peaks in the nineteenth-century Aegean



Over the past few years, the relationship between landscape and the body as two physical entities mutually informed through performance has been increasingly interrogated by cultural geographers. Similar issues about memory, embodiment and performativity have been raised in the social sciences, yet often obliterating the material specificities of place and landscape. This paper reconsiders the relationship between landscape and memory in terms of embodied, visual and spatial practice, rather than as a contested cultural politics of heritage and identity (as it has been generally understood in cultural geography after the so-called ‘cultural turn’). Drawing on Nora's ‘memory places’ and on the Deleuzian notion of ‘ontological past’, as well as on recent writing on historical geographies of exploration and travel, the paper explores the spatial re-activation of Classical historical memory by nineteenth-century British officers and travellers to Aegean mountain peaks through their embodied and site-located practices of climbing, surveying or simply ‘gazing’.