Place-making and meaning-making in the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

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This study is an investigation of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain that is framed by place studies. The thesis proposes that pilgrims en route to Santiago encounter, and also cultivate, meaning-making that is socially and materially constructed and influenced by pilgrimage traditions, landscapes, a vast array of architectures, en route pilgrimage-support communities, as well as artistic and religious material cultures. The overall consequence is the formation of a unique pilgrimage identity that I name the Camino identity. The concept of a Camino identity draws on self-categorization theory-that proposes there is a cognitive process in social settings where comparisons are typically invited, encouraged and cultivated, especially between an 'in-group' (such as Camino pilgrims) and an 'out-group' (non-pilgrims). The process involves a shift of self­perception whereby individuals seek to be exemplars of their group and its ideals. The thesis argues that daily engagement with fellow Camino pilgrims, the physicality of participating in the pilgrimage, the influences of Camino traditions and the ever-changing placeness of pilgrims invite a high level of behaviour and commitment to a Camino idealism. The Camino identity is of major significance for place-making and meaning­making during the pilgrimage to Santiago. The Camino becomes a vehicle for personal transformation of the pilgrims as they discover a new hope and purpose in life through friendship and a sense of common humanity that is place-based and place-influenced. The thesis employs three strategies of investigation: i) historical and contemporary accounts of pilgrimage to Santiago as well as theoretical insights drawn from place studies, ii) participating in the Camino pilgrimage twice as well as the use of diaries of pilgrims, and iii) creating and exhibiting sculptures that mediate an understanding of the Camino experience.
Bibliography: p. 224-259
Many pages are in colour.
Gossen, C. E. (2012). Place-making and meaning-making in the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/4973