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One day in late Spring, during the global pandemic, Goldsmiths’ Centre for Urban and Community Research launched an initiative to bring writing, walking and the Goldsmiths’ community together despite ongoing restrictions.
Two years on the collection of work, now published as a booklet, celebrated its launch on campus to recognise the creative collaboration of staff and students involved.
The practice of walking and writing for research and learning has been used by the Centre for Urban and Community Research (CUCR) since its inception in 1994, inspiring staff and students through the local neighbourhoods of Deptford, New Cross and further reaches of London.
“Many of us in the Centre use walking in our research and teaching,” explains Dr Emma Jackson, Director of CUCR, adding “So we found that we had to adapt these practices during the pandemic.”
Although the method of walking has been a common learning tool for almost 30 years at the Centre, May 2021 brought the first collaborative workshop to CUCR, demonstrating the dedication of staff and students who overcame challenges in travel restrictions and time zones to connect with colleagues across the UK and Overseas.
“There was something almost comforting about the bringing together of different places into a single rhythm,” says Louise Rondel, PhD candidate in Sociology. “Knowing that other people were setting off at the same time, walking the same duration and responding to the same prompts made us feel together, even from our different locations.”
“Although the walks are all done alone, we still felt like we were together through sharing our writings created from the walks.” Dr Nirmal Puwar, Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths explains.
At the Centre, walking continues to be an important practice in both teaching and research, with many participants developing their own projects with similar approaches and methods. PhD candidates Louise Rondel and Laura Henneke have recently announced their own Infrastructural Exploration to take place on 9 June, and Dr Nirmal Puwar will also publish her book, ‘One Mile Walk’, covering the experience of daily walking throughout the pandemic (and beyond) later this year.
Find further information on the work of the Centre for Urban and Community Research or view a copy of the Writing Walking collection.