Neither Here Nor There: Walking in Forgotten Territories
In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, 29-31 August 2007, London.
This paper addresses two related problems concerning walking practices in urban environments. The first is to do with the kinds of territories which receive attention in urban spatial discourse and the second focuses on specific problems with existing theories. Using a walk from Mile End tube station to a residence alongside a canal this paper highlights the characteristics of a middle-ground territory between the centre and periphery. It will interrogate various theories and models that have brought together walking and space, ranging from the picturesque promenade to the situationist dérive. The nature of this walk will reveal the shortcomings of these theories, in particular the emphasis on aesthetic motivation or self-consciousness of the walk. Walking through these ‘lost’ territories, forced by necessity, the experience of self and space fits neither the preconception of urban space (based on the model of the historic core) nor the myth of the ‘natural’ or green suburban realm. The paper argues for new models for understanding such spatial territories. Beginning with Michel de Certeau’s concept of walking the suggestion will be for a complex formal-social approach.
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