WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn99 )

Walk with me: Walking ethnography in research with and about children and young people

Organizers

    Sevasti-Melissa Nolas

    United Kingdom

    Goldsmiths, University of London

    Online - Presence

    Barbara Turk Niskac

    Slovenia

    Tampere University

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

Keywords:

Anthropology of childhood, walking ethnography, memory, imagination, emplacement

Abstract:

This panel aims to explore various modes of walking ethnography in research with and about children. Walking can be understood as collaborative knowledge production that opens up new ways of understanding interlocutors’ everyday lives, their societies and cultures past, present, and future. Contributions to the panel will investigate what we can learn about children’s everyday lives and lived experiences, their emplacement, multisensoriality, and multispecies relations that come with dwelling in landscape and by walking alongside them in place, in space and in time. In putting walking, memory, and the imagination in conversation with each other, the panel also seeks to critique the inherent ableism of walking ethnographies. Walking has been recognized as an essential part of the everyday practice of social life and anthropological fieldwork. Walking ethnography has been used in various forms, from walking or mobile interviews (Porter et al, 2010) and walking seminars (Shepherd, 2022), to sensory walks (Pink 2008; 2015), sensobiographic walks (Murray and Järviluoma, 2020), memory walks (Bonilla, 2011), and walks emphasizing the more-than-human dimensions (Springgay and Truman, 2018). ‘Walking with’ (Lee and Ingold, 2006) our interlocutors can be a way of inscribing ourselves into the rhythms of their everyday lives, moving in the same direction, and sharing their perspectives. Walking with children and young people as they move from and between their homes, to their schools, and their work, through their neighbourhoods, townships, slums, cities, and countryside offers a way for children’s stories to emerge (Porter et al, 2010) and to be recounted in their own idiom. In such walks the immediacy of embodied experiences, the ability of a place to trigger existing knowledge, and the influence of nostalgic memory collectively contribute to the formation of intimate child-place assemblages (Bodenhorn and Lee, 2021). Thinking about space in less physicalist ways, such as spaces of reverie and imagination (de Certeau, 1984), can open further avenues for exploration of children’s everyday lives, their cares and concerns, often without leaving the confines of their places of residence. Even so, children’s walking biographies, the cultural meaning ascribed to walking, and their ability and opportunity to roam, vary greatly across the world. Children’s walking practices are shaped by the kinship relations, institutions, and societies they grow up in. Children’s own disability, or a parental disability, and their education-work-life balances, give pause to thought about the nature of mobility in childhood. Impaired or circumscribed mobility changes children’s walking practices and in so doing challenges what can be known through walking (Goggin, 2016). We invite contributions that engage with and challenge walking as a way of knowing with and from children. What kind of knowledge does walking ethnography produce? What kinds of place-, space- and time-making practices does walking create? How do children and young people experience emplacement? What sort of more-than-human relations, e.g. with plants, animals, soil, and landscape, do children’s dwelling in the landscape create? In what ways can we, as walking interlocutors, capture and communicate the affect, embodiment, memory, materiality, imagination, and place, that is referenced in walking?