Introduction, Ways of Walking: Ethnography and Practice on Foot

Tim Ingold*, Jo Lee Vergunst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


When did our walk begin? When will it ever end? We cannot remember, and will never know. Walking, in this regard, is much like talking, and both are quintessential features of what we take to be a human form of life. We are already talking by the time we realize that this is what we are doing; and only those who remain after we are gone will know which words will have been our last. So it is, too, with our first and last steps. Life itself is as much a long walk as it is a long conversation, and the ways along which we walk are those along which we live. There are beginnings and endings, of course. But every moment of beginning is itself in the midst of things and must, for that reason, be also a moment of ending in relation to whatever went before. Likewise, every step faces both ways: It is both the ending, or tip, of a trail that leads back through our past life, and a new beginning that moves us forward towards future destinations unknown. The same goes for the words we read and write. We begin to write, and you begin to read, in the thick of things, and only because we have set aside other tasks for the time being. We do not, however, travel alone. Our principal contention is that walking is a profoundly social activity: That in their timings, rhythms and inflections, the feet respond as much as does the voice to the presence and activity of others. Social relations, we maintain, are not enacted in situ but are paced out along the ground.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWays of Walking
Subtitle of host publicationEthnography and Practice on Foot
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781351873505
ISBN (Print)9781138244627
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Tim ingold and Jo lee Vergunst 2008.


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