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Walk this way : the rhythmic mobilities of university students in Greater Manchester, UK

Wilkinson, Samantha ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1564-5472 and Badwan, Khawla ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1808-724X (2021) Walk this way : the rhythmic mobilities of university students in Greater Manchester, UK. Mobilities, 16 (3). pp. 373-387. ISSN 1745-0101

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Abstract

Mobility in the context of higher education is often privileged to large(r)-scaled international movements, consequently neglecting the everyday mobilities practiced by students. This is an important neglect since banal mobilities constitute important affective experiences for students (Holton and Finn 2018). In responding to calls for a micro-bodily mobilities approach to student geographies in the UK (Holton and Finn 2018), this paper draws on in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with university students aged 18-25 studying in Greater Manchester. Through a discussion of the complex and multi-layered everyday walking mobilities of students, this paper illuminates how embodied, emotional and affective walking mobility practices shape students’ experiences and identities. Findings show that, for students in our study, moorings are often as important as mobilities to identity formation, and place attachment. Bringing to the fore the embodied, emotional and affective nature of student micro-mobilities is important because students in this paper make clear that various forms of movement and stillness are of great importance to their wellbeing, enabling them to have space and time to think, reflect, and form attachments and belonging with people and spaces. This paper has important implications for higher education and urban designers, as we contend that it is crucial to draw attention to students’ experiences of walking and sitting in the city, which significantly contribute to constructing sense of place and belonging to the university city.

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