Cultural memory and new media

My research is carried out in collaboration with the Cork Folklore Project (, in particular working with the Cork Memory Map (see This is an oral history online map, and memory lies at the heart of the oral historian’s work:

The oral historian, broadly speaking, asks people questions to discover four things: what happened, how they felt about it, how they recall it, and what wider public memory they draw upon. At the heart of this lies memory. (Abrams 2010, 78)

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Iterations, meaning and re-negotiation of meaning

I see oral history maps as a form of thick mapping. This includes my own particular practice, in collaboration with the Cork Folklore Project, of creating digital oral history maps of Cork. (If not yet quite “thick” enough to qualify as thick maps – the aim is that these can be added to so that they can eventually become “thick”.) These maps are online representations of Cork city, where audio stories (excerpts from oral history interviews) are pinned to points on the map. The audio stories include anecdotes about what happens in these places as well as narratives of personal, embodied experiences of place.
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“Thick mapping”

Thick mapping is an idea derived from Geertz’s idea of thick description (Presner et al. 2014, 11). It is a method of doing ethnography – extensive description about cultural context and meaning – a path to understanding (see an outline of Thick Description and Geertz’s use of it here
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Some words…

Traditional. Home. Real. Irish-owned. Safe. Mixed. Characteristic (meaning full of character). Love. Struggling. Local.

These are some of the words used to describe North Main Street in Cork during oral history interviews. They were selected in response to the question: “If you could choose three words to describe North Main Street, what would they be?” The words convey a mix of different attitudes, from the extremely personal, to those looking for the unique selling point for the street, to the realistic/pragmatic perspective on how the street seems today. Continue reading Some words…