RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

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32 Desire Lines, Dawdles and Drifts: Walking Together as Research (1) - Talks
Affiliation Participatory Geographies Research Group
Convenor(s) Morag Rose (University of Liverpool, UK)
Blake Morris (Independent)
Chair(s) Morag Rose (University of Liverpool, UK)
Blake Morris (Independent)
Timetable Wednesday 29 August 2018, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Sir Martin Evans Building - Physiology A Lecture Theatre
Session abstract There is a growing body of geographical research that uses walking together as a research, teaching and learning tool. For example, Bates and Rhys-Taylor (2017), Warren (2016) and Evans and Jones (2011) all demonstrate various ways walking can help break down hierarchies and encourage rich conversations about the environment. Wider bodies of work on walking art and psychogeography indicate methods that are playful, subversive, multi-sensory, interdisciplinary, fluid and performative (Smith, 2015, Richardson, 2015 and The Walking Artists Network online). These sessions are for anyone who uses, or who would like to use, or is just interested in walking as a way to explore, critically engage with, and understand space and place.

We want to share research and be inspired by the potential of pedestrian methods. Themes include
• How walking methods critically engage with and interrogate the environment
• Innovations, issues and debates around walking methodologies
• Contemporary psychogeographies and their relationship to the academy
• Activist, community and creative walking and mapping practice
• Walking pedagogy, its benefits, risks and ethics

There are three sessions in this strand. The first and third are panel talks about walking. Papers will be short and discussion and debate is encouraged. The second of the three sessions aims to put theory into practice with an exploration of the landscape around the conference centre. Walking artists, activists and academics have been invited to provide prompts for creative walking to be used by small groups. Participants will to go for an autonomous wander at their own pace and after an hour or so will reconvene to share field-notes and experiences. This is actively participatory geography and our walking includes sticks, wheels, orthotics and other mobility aids. We want these sessions to be accessible and welcoming to anyone who wishes to join in and will strive to facilitate an inclusive and diverse conference experience.
Linked Sessions Desire Lines, Dawdles and Drifts: Walking Together as Research (2) - Walks
Desire Lines, Dawdles and Drifts: Walking Together as Research (3) - Talks
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2018@rgs.org
Critical Walking as a Methodology to Explore Northern Istanbul: The Case of Istanbul Walkabouts
Nazli Tumerdem (Istanbul Technical University, Turkey)
The aim of this paper is to reflect upon the process of creating the methodology for Istanbul Walkabouts, a project that explores, records and represents emergent landscapes in northern Istanbul through critical walking. Unlike urbanized, industrialized and populated southern Istanbul; northern Istanbul is sparsely populated and houses forests, water reserves, agricultural lands, farms, military zones and quarries. However, during the last decade, this region became the main site for mega-scaled neoliberal operations. Recently constructed Northern Marmara Highway is an essential example that not only transits the northern territories and connects Asia to Europe over Bosphorus for the third time but also acts as the spine to forthcoming megaprojects. Within the absence of a coherent urban theory, unreliability of law, impossibility of direct action in a state of emergency, critical walking is employed as a probable and alternative way of exploring, recording, and engaging with these transforming landscapes. Thus, Istanbul Walkabouts perceives these transforming landscapes by walking along and around the route of the Northern Marmara Highway. After walking 235 km on differing routes with varying modes of capturing and multiple encounters within physical, seasonal, temporal and climatic changes; the walks eventually constituted their own methodology. This paper intends to reflect upon the formation of critical walking as a methodology to be employed within transforming landscapes and ultimately as a way to create awareness and trigger resistance in order to form a platform of discussion and discourse for the current mega-urbanization taking place in northern hinterland of Istanbul.
Towards Korea
Chris Green (University of Plymouth, UK)
Katheryn Owens (University of Plymouth, UK)
Taking as a starting point distinctions made by Hannah Arendt between romantic love and friendship, as Jon Nixon notes, ‘[c]oncieved as a voluntary and mutual relationship…friendship becomes a microcosm of a pluralistic world based on the equal worth of each unique individual. Friendship is worldly and, as such, participates in both the realm of the private and that of the public. In this respect, argued Arendt, Friendship differs radically from romantic love: ‘[L]ove, in distinction from friendship, is killed, or rather extinguished, the moment it is displayed in public’(HC, 51). Friendship is worldly, whereas love is unworldly; love achieves equality through oneness, whereas friendship achieves it through plurality.’ (Nixon, J (2015, p28) Hannah Arendt and The Politics of Friendship. London: Bloomsbury).

We are interested in the relationship between walking, politics and friendship, and how friendships might act as an antidote to neoliberal atomisation; organising and coming together in solidarity and as a tool to prepare ourselves for being in the world, and how one might find ways to walk despite the inherent difficulties in being organised and together. We met our friend Youngshin in London, but now for financial and visa reasons she is unable to leave South Korea. This is a situation she finds quite difficult to deal with, for various social reasons to do with aspects of her culture that she doesn’t enjoy (though this is offered as a critique of Youngshin’s relationship to
place rather than as statement about South Korea). The paper we propose reflects in part on a walk we are undertaking together, where we walk as often as possible a short distance in our local area, which she also does in her area, with the idea that over time we cover the miles between us. The paper will look at creative walking as an artistic practice, as a research tool to explore connection, friendship and love, mapping both physical and imagined territories, walking as an imagined act and will touch on walking as a means of private resistance, and walking within public and private spaces.
Psychogeography as testing ground for immediacy: method, play, and politics
Simon Bradley (Independent Scholar)
Ursula Troche (Independent Scholar)
In this paper we bring our alternate practices together on a series of walks in and around 2017 City of Culture, Hull. In particular, we highlight a walk across the Humber Bridge, the longest single span suspension bridge in the world until 1997. Using the phrase ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come it’ as a concrete metaphor traversing physical and psychological space, we explore new territory and reflect on the personal as political in a quest to unearth trajectories for further practice.

We open with personal characterisations of some of the key concepts of psychogeography as experimental and critical methods, outlining our approaches as predominantly solitary, urban explorers. The key role of play as a creative and potentially subversive tactic is introduced (referencing Fluxus, Yoko Ono and J. Huizinga, H.J.Ehrlich, et al) before we provide an illustrated account of a highly constricted dérive in which we set out to complete the seemingly impossible task of loosely drifting within the rigid confines of the pedestrian walkway of the Humber Bridge, while walking from Yorkshire to Lincolnshire and back again. During the course of our excursion we come across several challenges, physical, psychological, political and just plain awkward.

In conclusion, we suggest how a reflexive, dialectical approach to psychogeographical practice can open up new terrains of sensitivity to the seams, cracks and edges of the self as it negotiates the terra incognita of the everyday. Preconceptions of the Other, as stranger, foreigner or alien ultimately gave us the impetus to produce this paper.

‘In the middle of history, in the middle of progress, in the middle of the fight, we learn how we must fight’ (Rosa Luxemburg)
Improving decision making on wild land conservation in Europe through participatory mapping of human perceptions of wild spaces and species
Jonathan Carruthers-Jones (University of Leeds, UK)
A key challenge for the protection of wild spaces and species is the diverse range of meanings attached to the idea of the ‘wild’. This research combined traditional spatial approaches to representing wildness, with more subjective human knowledge and perception captured in situ. This integrated participatory mapping technique is designed to support more inclusive and sustainable approaches to the conservation of wild spaces and species. Walking transects in the Scottish Highlands were structured around a continuum of wildness quality derived from mapping by Scottish Natural Heritage 2013. A broad range of stakeholders (N = 41) were taken on these transect walks and at 18 pre-specified locations were asked a series of simple landscape assessment questions to quantify the immediate surrounding landscape in terms of biodiversity, naturalness, connectivity, wildness, landscape management and emotional experience of the place. Participants were invited to make comments in order to explain their scores. A questionnaire collected data on attitudes to wild spaces and wild species reintroductions. In situ subjective human perception scores were then directly compared with the existing GIS based landscape scale wildness maps. Analysis of both in situ landscape assessment scores and participant preferences for the conservation of wild spaces in mountain areas showed high levels of agreement on key issues. Involving people in this kind of mapping initiative and integrating their knowledge into the creation of conservation tools such as wildness maps may be one way of resolving the conflict that we currently see around the wild land debate in Scotland.
Walking and Talking in Helsinki
Eeva Berglund (Aalto University Department of Design, Helsinki, Finland)
Hanna Kaisa Vainio (Community Artist Helsinki, Finland)
Walking is integral to how we both, an artist and a (design) anthropologist, work. It is almost always an unremarkable but productive part of ethnographic research and a key aspect of environmental art. The same generally applies to talking or storytelling.
We describe a recent community art project in Helsinki in which walking and talking was a collective exercise of learning about urban landscapes threatened with total transformation. Our wanders and workshops attracted many lovers of urban nature, and resulted in audit-friendly outputs: the events themselves, a one-off community newspaper issue and an installation incorporating a sound work for a municipal cultural centre.

For the panel we will describe our two main aims: firstly, attracting people into Helsinki's forests, sites of looming environmental injustice under acute threat of development, and secondly, encouraging people to explore familiar landscapes in the company of strangers who might be different from them. Using sound, photographs and other illustrations as well as conventional research language, we will narrate how walking became a way to deal with the accelerated imperative to grow Helsinki.
We are both engaged in pedagogy, and are keen to develop walking storytelling further in our respective fields. We want to exploit its multisensorial quality to further activist learning in the cacophony of urban construction. Yet can we even spell out what our walks achieved, or what walking storytelling is good for, when the impacts of ongoing urban transformation are so out of proportion to ours?
Picking up the Pizzas: The Spatial Politics of Walking With Things
Sam Johnson-Schlee (London South Bank University, UK)
Whilst conducting ethnographic research at a Brixton soup kitchen I made a weekly walk to and from a local restaurant to collect the pizzas that they donated every Monday. It would be me and one of the service users, usually Laurie (anon.). On the way back, we would buy a few bags of chips and take it all back to the soup kitchen for lunch. On the way the pizzas invisibly changed from ‘artisanal pizza’ into ‘pizza and chips’ *. In this paper, I want to talk with close regard about what is at stake when you walk with an object as it moves from one place to another. By walking with the pizzas their transformation is not just a matter of dichotomy, but of continuity, as the walk gives space to consider their gradual and invisible transmutation.
This is an experimental re-orientation of the account of this walk around the object. I develop a post-human (Braidotti 2013) account of the cultural and social complexity of this rapidly changing neighbourhood around the pizzas. I will extend sensory ethnography (Rhys Taylor 2014) and Follow the thing (Cook et al 2004) to suggest that through literally following a thing we can establish a more intimate register of observation. This is the intimacy with which deCerteau imbues walking in his essay on the subject (1984). Ultimately I want to suggest that through a materially informed walking methodology we can read the complex spatial politics of objects as they shift and change through space.
Walking The Path to Change? Political Walking Tours in Dublin
Georgina Perryman (National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland)
How can walking tours constitute a form of activism? This paper provides a new perspective on the discursive and spatial ways in which the city is constructed and narrated through walking tours. As a spatially mobile, embodied form of pedagogy, walking tours make local stories visible and may function as acts of resistance for groups and social movements. In Dublin, such tours have critically addressed consequences of neoliberalism, austerity and the financialisaton of the city since the global economic crisis in 2008. Moreover, they have challenged hegemonic gendered, classed, colonial, and heteronormative historical narratives. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with Dublin tour guides who self-identify as activists and/or educators (in 2017-18), the paper argues that walking tours can constitute a form of activism through their value laden and intentional construction. Based upon local experts’ views, I understand walking tours as an activist knowledge practice and a critical pedagogy of place. Bolstered by motivations towards conscientisation, guides use walking tours in conjunction with creative practices, such as storytelling, to invoke new narratives of the past through a peripatetic approach to place, eliciting emotions from attendees that are contextualised by the mobility of the method and framed through dialogue with one another. In this way, walking tours create spatial, embodied pathways through the city as practices of critical memory-work and activist knowledge re-narrate and challenge hegemonic discourses. Whilst limitations of the practice were raised by some guides regarding the sustainability of attendee's engagement with activist practices, they also noted that supplementary creative practices tended to mitigate these problems. The paper finishes with suggestions about further democratising walking tours and connecting them to more substantive avenues for activism in the future.