#InterviewSeries: Margherita Cisani, Visiting Researcher

Margherita Cisani is a research fellow in Geography at the University of Padova and one of CeMoRe’s current visiting researchers. Margherita has a PhD in Geography and her research focuses on the interrelation between everyday landscapes and the everyday practice of mobilities, especially focusing on walking groups that take place in the everyday contexts of suburban or urban areas, as opposed to the countryside or exceptional landscapes. Margherita is currently enrolled as a post-doc, developing a project dedicated mainly to landscape as an object and a tool in education and training, which consists of a mapping of landscape education experiences throughout Italy (in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage) and of an international comparative analysis. This project also contains a focus on the role of outdoor education and mobility in landscape perception, literacy and awareness as well as on the political dimension of landscape, as a tool for citizenship education.

Margherita first encountered the concept of mobilities in a serendipitous moment whilst researching on a project concerning smart cities and sustainable mobilities. This led Margherita to alter her proposed PhD topic into something that dealt with landscape and mobilities simultaneously in order to merge her new-found interest in mobilities and her previous research background in geography and landscape studies. Within this research, Margherita came across the New Mobilities Paradigm (2006) which changed her perception of mobilities from a rigid concept of movement from one place to another, into something significantly more fluid and open to interpretation. Margherita first came across the New Mobilities Paradigm (2006) when reading English papers whilst studying for her PhD. Within these papers, a transcription of a panel discussion on ‘Landscape, Mobility and Practice’, which was held at the RGS/IBG Annual Conference in September 2006 (Merriman et al., 2008) that spoke of the relationship between landscape, mobility and practices stood out to her and this opened her mind to the concept of mobilities and its interdisciplinary nature, which then became the starting point of her inspiration that fuelled her PhD. The New Mobilities Paradigm (2006) has helped Margherita think of the concept of landscape in a more dynamic way. It has complexified her approach to landscape whilst also encouraging her to use experimental mobile methods together with other traditional geographical methods such as cartography.

Margherita’s research background belongs to landscape studies and her PhD thesis was on the topic of the Everyday Practices of Non-motorised Mobility and focused around everyday landscape walking groups, which set the scene of her research. By choosing this case study Margherita chose to focus on the act of walking with someone else and the togetherness of the practice of mobility. This is something that is important to her research and what came out of this was the specificity towards noticing the practice level of the mobile and the sustainable, and everyday practices, even though they are often underestimated. It is important for informing the mobility policies and landscape policies in order to increase the multidimensional knowledge and analysis of these practices. The act of moving together correlates to a sense of belonging to a landscape, which is another key point in her research.

Walking together is learning together, as while you walk you encounter different elements in the landscape and relay these experiences to other people. In doing so, you learn from others’ shared experiences and realise that the landscape itself is shared, practicing the mobility of learning with others. This correlates with Margherita’s current post-doc project, exploring the Italian context of landscape and education. According to the European Landscape Convention (2000), landscape is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors but it also contains the values and the representation that people make of the landscape, whilst these elements contribute to the notion that landscape is a condition for wellbeing. This leads to the importance of considering not just the beautiful and exceptional landscapes, but also the everyday landscape. People have a right to live in quality landscapes and also the duty of protect, manage and transform accordingly their landscapes, therefore education on the topic would further this into everyday life. In Italy there is an emerging debate on the importance of landscape and heritage education, and to see this concept through the ‘lens’ of mobilities would help pay attention to the messages that are being conveyed, what learning is in place (active, critical or passive?) and also which relations of power are in place (who decides and benefits about the values and the changes of landscapes?).

After visiting CeMoRe, Margherita believes there is value in the openness and welcoming nature of the centre, in its capacity to value everyone’s contribution and in the ability to connect and communicate, within a local, international and online network. Margherita hopes it will be possible to also increase the dialogue between Italian literatures and debates with the international one and to boost the internationalisation of her department.

Margherita will be hosting a research colloquium within CeMoRe on the 19th March at 12pm, in Bowland Seminar Room 08 from 1pm – 3pm.

Margherita will also be convening a series of seminars at the University of Padova on Mobilities and the Humanities, featuring historians, anthropologists and geographers. For more information please visit the link here.

The original post can be found @ https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/cemore/margherita-cisani-interview/

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