4. The politics and poetics of walking ethnographies

Walking ethnographies represent a transdisciplinary area of interest and methodological experimentation, located at the crossroads between phenomenological and post-phenomenological, feminist and critical approaches to ethnographic research. Nurtured by the recent ‘mobile’ and ‘performative’ but also ‘creative’ and ‘narrative’ turns, walking ethnographies have become widespread methodologies, extending well beyond the large but limited area of the Social Sciences and Humanities, suggesting many hybrid research-art collaborations.

In this session we want to focus on walking as a research practice that is contextual and never detached from social reality but also embodied, immersive, creative and, thus, intrinsically transdisciplinary. Walking moves along with the socio-spatial context where it takes place, allowing researchers to take part in the ongoing process of mobile transitions and im/mobilisations of bodies, narratives and spaces. Walking as a method both moves our embodied persona through the field and allows walking bodies become part of it, through a process of co-construction: through an autoethnographic lens, walking as a research practice changes our positionality but also our understanding of how places are continuously re-assembled through socio-material entanglements. 

We welcome contributions that consider the interconnectedness of walking politics and poetics. Considering the challenges posed by a kind of ethnography that is by definition ‘on the move’, we are particularly interested in exploring new creative experimentations of walking methodologies.

In this context, the session invites contributors to address questions such as:

  • Politics and poetics: What are the politics and poetics of walking ethnographies? 
  • The field: How do walking ethnographies enable researchers to explore the field? How do we change the field by walking and how does the field change us while walking?
  • Technologies and languages: Which technologies and languages can be deployed to conduct ethnographic research on walking practices?
  • Bodies and (post)phenomenologies: What are the peculiar (post)phenomenologies and embodiments of walking ethnographies
  • Visualities and narratives: What are the peculiar visualities and narratives of walking ethnographies?
  • Autoethnography: How is the researcher’s positionality questioned and redefined, challenged and reassembled through walking practices?
  • Affective atmospheres: How do affective atmospheres interact with socio-spatial dynamics while walking?
  • Creative: Can walking ethnographies benefit from creative and artistic engagements? How? 
  • Pedagogy: Is there a specific pedagogy in/of walking ethnographies?
  • More-than-human: How does the non-human act upon the performances and narratives of walking ethnogrpaphies? How to practice and narrativise more-than-human walking ethnographies?

Both traditional and experimental contributions are welcome: from traditional oral presentations, to creative and narrative performances, videoclips, and any other creative engagements that contributors would like to bring to the session are welcome.

Keywords: walking; embodiment; performance; narrative; visualities; creative methods; mobile methods. 

Sub-disciplines or cross-disciplinary areas of concern: Mobilities studies; Cultural & Social geographies, sociologies, anthropologies; Urban studies; Performance Studies; Literary studies; Visual studies; Geohumanities; Art-based methods; Educational research. 

Ingold, T. (2010). Footprints through the weather‐world: walking, breathing, knowing. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute16, 121-139.

Ingold, T. and Vergunst J. L., eds, (2018). Ways of walking. Ethnography and practice on foot, London, Routledge

Keinänen M., Beck E.E. (2017). Wandering intellectuals: establishing a research agenda on gender, walking, and thinking, Gender, Place & Culture, 24:4, 515-533

Middleton, J. (2021). The walkable city: Dimensions of walking and overlapping walks of life, London, Routledge

Peterle, G. (2021). Comics as a research practice: drawing narrative geographies beyond the frame, Abingdon, Routledge

Pink, S., Hubbard, P., O’neill, M., & Radley, A. (2010). Walking across disciplines: from ethnography to arts practice, Visual studies25(1), 1-7

Rabbiosi, C. (2021). Performing a walking holiday: Routing, immersing and co-dwelling. Tourist Studies, 21(3), 367–386

Springgay, S. and Truman, S. E. (2019). Journal of Public Pedagogies – Special Issue Walking Lab, 4, 2019, https://walkinglab.org/journal-of-public-pedagogies-special-issue/

Wylie, J. (2005). A single day’s walking: Narrating self and landscape on the South West Coast Path. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 30(2), 234–247. 

Convenors bio profile:

Giada Peterle (giada.peterle@unipd.it) is a research fellow and lecturer in Literary Geography and in Creative Communication and Landscape Storytelling at the University of Padua, where she is also Scientific Director of the Museum of Geography. She works on narrative geographies in the geohumanities, and on the interconnections between geography, literature, comics, mobilities, mapping and art-based practices. She is author of the book Comics as a Research Practice: Drawing Narrative Geographies Beyond the Frame (Routledge 2021), and she published in many international journals, including Transactions of the Institute of British GeographersPolitical GeographyMobilitiesSocial & Cultural Geography, and Cultural Geographies.

Chiara Rabbiosi (chiara.rabbiosi@unipd.it) is associate professor at the University of Padua where she teaches Space, Place and Mobility, and Tourism and Landscape Promotion. Her research interests deal with the social and spatial dimensions of mobilities, including tourism mobilities, cultural heritage and place branding. Chiara is particularly interested in qualitative and creative methodologies, both for research and teaching. She has recently published an article in Tourist Studies on “Performing a walking holiday: Routing, immersing and codwelling” (21,3) exploring walking autho-ethnography. She has published in multifarious international journals including Annals of Tourism Research; Cultural Geographies; Gender, Place and Culture; and the Journal of Consumer Culture.

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