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Processional walking: Theorising the 'place' of movement in notions of dwelling

Platt, Louise and Medway, Dominic and Steadman, Chloe (2020) Processional walking: Theorising the 'place' of movement in notions of dwelling. Geographical Research. ISSN 1745-5863

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Abstract

This paper rethinks dwelling as an active and emergent process through which (re)connections to place are valorised by humans collectively walking with each other in a recursive manner. We revisit Heidegger’s notion of dwelling, often criticised for perpetuating enclosure and stasis, by revealing the interconnections between dwelling and movement. Drawing on a two-century old religious procession—the Manchester and Salford Whit Walks—as an empirical example, our interpretive analysis is centred around three themes. First, we demonstrate how dwelling becomes embodied in performative and collective movement. Second, we examine how dwelling in this context is reinforced through repetition and iteration of that movement. Third, we show how such movement is reliant on repair and maintenance work, which facilitates the (re)emergence of dwelling. We contribute, therefore, empirical insights into how dwelling emerges from a movement through place which, in turn, cements a being in place. Furthermore, this article has important implications for thinking about how the movement of citizens through processional forms of walking can be a powerful tool for underpinning feelings of dwelling, and related concepts of sense of place and civic pride.

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