Call for proposals: Workshop on walking and activism, SfAA Annual Meeting


Please see the following call for proposals for a workshop at the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) Annual Meeting in Vancouver, BC (March 29-April 2, 2016):

Anthropologists and scholars in cognate disciplines have addressed walking as a fertile method of ethnographic inquiry (Pink 2008, Guano 2003); a mode of learning and an embodied, place-specific way of engaging with issues and communities (Vergunst 2008); a means of subverting unequal relations of power, including those between researchers and interlocutors (Kusenbach 2003, Irving 2011); as well as a strategy of control, surveillance, and dominance (Shaw 2013). Walking tours in various forms, including audio itineraries and mapping exercises, have been used by individuals and groups to reframe spaces and histories. As a performative form of constructing and representing identities and claims to the world, walking has also been a powerful tool for activism, dissent, and community engagement of various kinds. The Mothers circling Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires during the dictatorship in Argentina, a group of Cree youth from Whapmagoostui, Quebec, snowshoeing 1, 600 kilometres to Parliament Hill in support of the Idle No More movement, and guided city walks in Milan, Italy, by disadvantaged residents are some of many examples.

For this workshop, we are looking for participants interested in exploring walking as a complex, contradictory, and contested social practice – a form of activism, a tool for resistance, a way of constructing social and environmental justice, but also a hegemonic and/or discriminatory force. The questions we invite you to consider include: what are some potentials and pitfalls of walking as a form of social commentary? How has walking been used by individuals and groups to counter oppression and suggest alternatives? How, on the opposite, have various walks and itineraries been used to exclude people and perpetuate inequalities? How can ethnographers work collaboratively with groups and communities involved in walking projects and practices that support social justice? The workshop will include a discussion of examples as well as an experiential component in which we will share strategies for organizing, initiating, and/or following walking projects.

If you are interested in participating, please send us a 200 word abstract before October 10, which includes

– a proposal for a 10 minute presentation on walking and activism and/or community projects. Examples discussed can range from small everyday itineraries to large-scale rallies and projects, and from analyses of events and initiatives to ethnographic insights and research experiences.

– a description of a 15 minutes walking activity or exercise you can facilitate with all the attendees of the workshop (exercises can take place in or outside of a classroom). All participants will be asked to lead an activity as well as participate in the one of others.

Please send the abstracts to Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston at mkazubow or to Cristina Moretti at crimoretti