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Title: Walking and civic dialogue : a critical and performative investigation of the relationship of walkers to their immediate neighbourhood and environment
Author: Ramsden , Hilary J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 3046
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the creation of a collaborative, participatory practice-based methodology and tests this, asking whether intentional and performative acts of walking can effect changes in the attitudes and perceptions of walkers to their neighbourhood and environment that might encourage dialogue and exchange. It takes material from different sources - the everyday walk, performance improvisation techniques, practices from the Situationists and from a wide range of contemporary theorists and practitioners concerned with the city and urbanism, observations and listening from my own practice and experience and from thirty volunteer participants. These are used to create a flexible, organic model, which seeks to provoke new understandings of the ways in which we think, look, listen, perceive and relate to others, and our surroundings, by creating the 'ethical encounter' envisaged by Geraldine Finn. A rhizomic methodology, envisaged as a trawlnet, draws together different modes of engagement to form a knotting network where multiple strands of thought and action, theory and practice intersect. Within the context of the habitual everyJay walk, which draws on the work of David Seamon and -Jean-Francois Augoyard, a set of methodological tools are employed, through 'play,' in the form of interruptions. These create opportunities for volunteer walkers to experience a heightened awareness that might lead to experiencing 'moments' of surprise or wonder, as defined by Edward Casey and Jane Bennett. Entering an i-don't-know-space of uncertainty, participants may become more receptive to new thought-processes beyond the external stimulus (the interruption). Such thinkingd-beyond are seen to afford opportunities for exchange and dialogue, creating constituent qualities for approaching the 'ethical encounter.' This ethno-situationist methodology provides the basis of an inquiry into whether we, as human beings, are able to find new ways of connecting our everyday thought processes with more conceptual, non-concrete ways of thinking. -- The combination of everyday corporeal routine in the physical action of walking, and the process of connecting responses to interruptions within that, to wider, conceptual, non-concrete issues, refines a practice through which theory is interrogated. This is then reworked back into the practice, becoming new knowledge, simultaneously embodied and articulated through that practice. The research is thus concerned with creating a new methodology as well as conducting an inquiry through the methodology created in the process of the research. By moving away from the exclusivity of disciplinary categories towards a more open and flexible mode of working and thinking; the practice goes beyond the autonomous aesthetic experience of the work of other practitioners and researchers in the field. This participatory project brings into question the authorial role of the artist, proposing new frameworks for collaborating with the public in creative processes. It also questions the traditional epistemological basis of the academy, blurring boundaries between artist and audience, expert and amateur, the mundane and sublime, vernacular and formal knowledges. Engagement with the porosity of categories and disciplines provokes shifts in 'disposition' to change habits and patterns of living on a number of levels, from the personal through to the socio-political, facilitating opportunities for the creation of a new form of political civility through listening, encounter and dialogue.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available