The last time I updated you all on the proceedings of the Rome project, was right before we returned to Groningen. Seeing that this was already two months ago, I thought it was time to let you know what we’ve been up to in the mean time.
To be honest, the process of returning to Groningen and getting on with the writing of the research paper has turned out to be more trying than our preparations before heading off to Rome were. As you may recall, while in Rome we had to present our research to other visitors of the Royal Dutch Institute (KNIR). To our disappointment, they had a lot of comments on our methods, use of terminology and the general topic of research. In other words, what we had wasn’t worth much and wouldn’t add much to the field of research of our interest. Hence, when we returned home, we truly intended to still make something of the data we had gathered in all our hours spent observing on Rome’s piazzas.
The obvious trend present in our observations was the immense populations of tourists. Accordingly, we would focus on the influence of tourists on Rome’s public spaces. In light of this you can think of symbols present in these spaces: billboards, posters/flyers attending to tourists, signs in the city directing you to the city’s highlights. But also, we looked at the ratio of assumed locals versus tourists, especially on the Piazza Navona, and the types of retail that are present in these spots. Unfortunately, it soon became clear to us that a relatively simple Google search would give anyone the answers to these questions, seeing that the notion of tourism has been around for a couple of years.
You can imagine how we must have felt that the last option we thought of in light of our gathered data, also fell through. Especially because we only had, and have, one more month to go. Luckily both our supervisor and the projects coordinator stood at the ready with a surprising new insight into our project. We had not noticed that we had been sitting on a valuable treasure: our own experience as an interdisciplinary research crew. Consequently, we are now focusing on this experience and how our own academic backgrounds have influenced how we jumped into this project, what our methods were, what we expected to find in Rome and how what we actually found turned out. But most of all, how working together, while having different backgrounds, has treated us.
Hence the paper that we will be writing and the presentation, or rather exhibition, that we will complete in less than a month’s time, will focus on this insight. The exhibition will be a demonstration of this process, from our starting point to displaying the data (pictures, sketches and observations) we gathered in Rome to our present conclusions. We are excited to show all this and hope it will turn out well!
By Anne de Vries – Second year student at UCG