SIEF Working Group Space-lore and Place-lore Events
SIEF Space-lore and Place-lore Working Group Business Meeting
University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia, 22 June 2015
Read the minutes here
"On the Train" Excursion and Pilgrim Trains in the 19th-21st Centuries
Szeged, Hungary, 16-17-18 October 2014
Faculty Conference Hall, University of Szeged, Faculty of Arts, Szeged, Egyetem u. 2.
The spread of public transport in the mid-19th century changed people’s travel habits. The most striking aspect of this was that the low fares and the speed led to its mass use. This not only had economic consequences, it also brought change in travel for religious and cultural purposes where new forms appeared: the special trains. The more prosperous set out to see the world, while religious people visited distant shrines. In one or two days they were able to travel a distance that had once taken much longer to cover. This circumstance transformed the means of fast transport, the train, into a special space where people spend days. The train had to be made suitable for many people to live there together: to have meals, attend to their toilet needs or even practice their religion. This form of mass tourism also influenced both the places visited on the way and the destinations. It created the need to operate travel offices, also within international frames, to create and develop institutions providing services. It therefore influenced the location and space in which it appeared and operated. The processes that began, the gradually merging railways, stations and services for mass tourism, the places that started to resemble each other internationally, the virtualising spaces of organisation foreshadow the forms of post-modern fluid places that we experience today, that have been summed up in the concept of non-places (Marc Augé). The train became a moving place that connects various other places.
Special excursion trains
The railways enabled the more prosperous sectors and then increasingly also others to visit distant destinations within the country and later also abroad. The first organised special excursion train departed for England in 1841. This pattern was soon followed by other countries. Travel companies were set up to organise mass travel, at first on the national level and later within international frames. This favoured a number of spas, seaside and mountain resorts, and often also towns where travellers broke their journey for a few hours or a day, took accommodation and visited the sights and museums.
Special pilgrim trains
As the railways grew into a European network, people also reached distant shrines. Long-distance pilgrimages were revived and grew to a mass scale. This contributed to the popularity of a few shrines, such as Lourdes. But special trains were organised for pilgrimages within individual countries too.
Ethnological and anthropological research has paid little attention to this form of mass pilgrimages that is still alive and now has traditional forms in many countries of Europe. These include the pilgrimage train for the sick from Belgium to Lourdes in France, and in the past decade a pilgrim train for Hungarian Catholics from Budapest to Częstochowa. The papers presented will analyse the past and present organisation and course of such trips, their influence on the shrines, as well as the spread of devotional forms, votive objects, songs and religious souvenirs, within the country and internationally.
We would like to learn about the excursion and pilgrim trains as special places as well as about the circumstances that create these special places and spaces. Therefore we look forward to receiving papers on both themes (special trains for secular and religious purposes) seen from the angle of how they shaped the various spaces and localities of travel, its social environment and frames. We would like to know more about their organisers, how they were organised, the course of the journey, and the influence they had on the railways and the destinations. Newspaper articles and books of recollections have been published on the journeys, as well as guidebooks providing information for travellers. The souvenir industry flourished, as did the use of postcards from the end of the 19th century.
The train became a special place on which the travellers, excursionists and pilgrims spent whole days, but we know little about how they passed the time.
These trips also raised special requirements for the trains. They had to be made fit for people to spend several days on them.
We do not have sufficient information on the social background of the travellers. Groups of various size must have been formed for the occasion and contacts established between people from distant places.
The language of the workshop was in English. The duration of papers was set at 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of discussion. The two days gave time for only 20 papers.
The plan is to publish the papers after the workshop in the form of studies. Studies may also include illustrations (images, maps, graphs, etc.). Please find attached the formal requirements for studies.
There was no fee for participation in the workshop. Participants were required to cover their own costs.
Thursday, 16th October
5 pm: Opening of the workshop
5.45 pm: Opening of the exhibition
6.30 pm: Reception
Friday, 17th October
9 am – 12.30: Presentation of papers
12.30 – 2 pm: Lunch break
2-5 pm: Presentation of papers
Saturday, 18th October
9 am – 12.30: Presentation of papers
1-2 pm: Lunch break
Afternoon: Facultative sightseeing, departure