Methodical walking

Walking can be a really helpful and valuable exercise not only for health reasons (in the broadest sense) but also for thinking and discussing.

As a postgraduate student at Bristol I helped with the ‘walking the city’ exercise for the first year students that asked them to walk a ‘transect’ of the city centre, paying attention not only to those indicators of the historical and social origins of the city landscape and the contemporary political economic actors in play but also, drawing on John Wylie’s work, to pay attention to how walking through the landscape of the city feels. In fact, the inimitable Keith Bassett published an interesting paper articulating a field trip exercise drawing on this method–the paper is called “Walking as an Aesthetic Practice and a Critical Tool: Some Psychogeographic Experiments“.

Some of the most provocative conversations I had as a PhD student, challenging my perceptions of my own research and how it fitted within broader discourses, took place on foot–particularly to and from pubs.

In my current role, at the DCRC, we organised two ‘walkshops’ with Do Projects‘ Adam Greenfield and Nurri Kim, which invited participants to think about the ways in which networked technologies collect, display and act upon data collected within the city landscape.

The motivation for this post though is that I was interested to find out that Annemarie Mol hosts a monthly ‘walking seminar‘, during which the participants ‘talk-walk about various issues concerning academic work’. The rationale is that ‘talking-while-walking enhances thinking in ways not attainable behind a desk or in a seminar sitting down’. The associated website is well worth a look.

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