“Dear Diary…”: Qualitative Methods & Geographies of Love

by Fiona Ferbrache

Cupid’s Kiss, created by Antonio Canova.

“Cupid, please hear my cry….”

This time of year is associated with love and fertility and it is today, 14 February, that Saint Valentine’s Day is celebrated in honour of a martyred Christian priest in Rome.  While Saint Valentine may refer just to this one priest, it is uncertain whether the first St Valentine’s Day in 496 was really honouring one or two others as well.  Much uncertainty surrounds the origins of this occasion. The legacy however, continues to develop around the world.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated beyond western culture and new practices have emerged.  In Japan and South Korea, for example, 14 March is known as White Day, on which men are supposed to thank those who remembered them in February, by giving white chocolate or marshmallows.  In Korea, 14 April is marked by a gathering of less fortunate men who did not receive gifts, in order to eat black noodles topped with a black sauce.

With today’s emphasis on love, it seems appropriate to present Morrison’s current paper in Area, which unpacks everyday geographies of heterosexual love in the home.  While Morrison illustrates empirical spaces of love (situated in Hamilton, New Zealand), her paper is predominantly methodological and analyses the role of the solicited diary as a research tool.  The style of these diaries differs to unsolicited personal writings in the way that they are produced by participants for the purpose of research and public consumption.  Solicited diaries, it is argued here, elicit valuable insight to sensuous geographies around a subject matter that can be difficult to discuss through more standard researcher/participant relations.  The paper provides critical insight for employing this method and ultimately aims to persuade readers “interested in the emotional and embodied dimensions of everyday life to consider using solicited diaries in their next research project” (p.74).

  Morrison, C. (2012) Solicited diaries and the everyday geographies of heterosexual love and home: reflections on methodological process and practice. Area. Vol.44,1. pp.68-75

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