The project studies how places and routes with a religious or mythical past can gain renewed significance through processes of narration, heritagisation, and the creation of inclusive spaces attracting diverse groups of people and individuals. By exploring the changing meanings of rural places and routes, and their potential in promoting social inclusion, we aim to identify models for enhancing the integrative power of places in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Norway. In all these countries, we can observe old and new forms of place-making and revivals of pilgrimage traditions at different stages of development. Christian and pre-Christian sites and monuments, once defunct, are today acquiring additional value as sites of cultural heritage, while nature and landscape are re-evaluated as domains for spiritual growth. Many formerly abandoned places, practices and narrative traditions are thus being reframed in light of contemporary societal values and challenges. With a consortium that combines expertise in the fields of vernacular religion, folklore and narrative theory, heritage studies and cultural history, we shall scrutinise, how places are made meaningful; how they are imagined and represented in different kinds of media; the economic impact of such re-presentations; why some of these places become inclusive and attract people with diverse backgrounds, while others seem to fail this capacity or, moreover, become sources of division; and how people can re-narrate themselves in relation to place. Among the most original, socially significant points of the project is the potential that such sites and routes may afford in relation to helping people feel ‘at home’ in the heritagised ‘domestication’ of the cultural landscape. These reanimated, multi-vocally narrated, performed and practiced places may provide the loci for locals, travellers, the socially excluded and newcomers to set in motion significant storyworlds, and emerging, inclusive socio-cultural environments.

Project partners