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May I Walk with You? Exploring Urban Inequality in Everyday Walking Practices in Santiago de Chile
Abstract and Figures
This thesis investigates everyday walking practices in Santiago de Chile. It explores how the lived experiences of walkers differ in relation to urban inequality, specifically regarding its socio-spatial aspects. In much seminal literature on everyday life in the city, walking tends to be understood as a homogeneous practice. While research on walking over the last decade has started to consider a greater diversity of pedestrian practices, this thesis highlights the need for a more in-depth consideration of the differences between walkers, the socio-spatial conditions of the places they move through, and their everyday engagement with the city. It does so through extensive ethnographic fieldwork walking with people living and moving through different areas of Santiago. Audio and video recordings of journeys were collected and an innovative reflexive approach developed by inviting research participants to explore creatively their own walking practices. The thesis advances a micropolitics of walking by exploring how the unequal distribution of material and affective qualities of places affect pedestrian experiences, and by focusing on walkers’ responsiveness to quotidian situations by tracing key variations of their rhythms and attention. It is argued that through everyday walking people become part of places, participating in sensory relationships which implies to be part of ‘fields of forces’ that enable or constrain their capacities to perform the practice of walking. Conceiving walking as a way of touching places, reflections are made about how the tactile knowledge produced by pedestrian experiences affect urban dwellers’ broader sense of the city. By collecting stories around walking in Santiago de Chile, the thesis diversifies knowledge on everyday walking practices in Anglophone academic discussion. In so doing it provides a new perspective on the lived experience of urban inequality and on the role of pedestrian practices in shaping urban life.
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