General Anthropology Division
Oral Presentation Session
This paper examines the embodied practices of recreational walking among people who have impaired vision traversing the landscapes of the South Downs, England. It attends to the rhythms and textures of two distinct walking practices: sighted guiding with touch contact and sighted guiding without touch contact. I draw on my ethnographic fieldwork as an apprentice sighted guide as part of case study methodology of walking one to one with eight people as their sighted guide over the course of two years. This paper explores walking as a form of touching in motion, using a sensuous ethnographic approach to reveal the ways in which walkers are in-touch with one another and the landscape. The notion of “feeling through” is significant in examining the ways in which walkers are in contact with the forms, surfaces, and textures of the ground, but also perceiving through the motion of an ‘other’. Weiss’s (1999) concept of inter-corporeality is used to analyse the ways in which the sense of the perceiving body and emergent landscape are potentially expanded through touch-contact sighted guiding practices. Through presentation of evocative ethnographic description, this paper considers the relationality of the body, ground and the ‘other’ in varied activities of walking.