Footprints through the weather-world: walking, breathing, knowing

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350 Citations (Scopus)


This essay investigates the relation between becoming knowledgeable, walking along, and the experience of weather. It begins by exploring the meaning of ground. Far from being uniform, homogeneous, and pre-prepared, the ground is variegated, composite, and undergoes continuous generation. Moreover, it is apprehended in movement rather than from fixed points. Making their way along the ground, people create paths and tracks. These are made, however, through the impression of footprints rather than gestural inscription. As footprints are made in soft ground rather than stamped on a hard surface, their temporality is bound to the dynamics of its formation. These dynamics are a function of the weather, and of reactions across the interface between earth and air. Breathing with every step they take, wayfarers walk at once in the air and on the ground. This walking is itself a process of thinking and knowing. Thus knowledge is formed along paths of movement in the weather-world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S121-S139
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue numberSupplement s1
Early online date1 Apr 2010
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


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