A Walk in Thirdspace: Place, Methods and Walking

by Kate Moles
Cardiff University

Sociological Research Online 13(4)2

Received: 3 Dec 2007     Accepted: 29 May 2008    Published: 31 Jul 2008


1.1 The paper engages with the idea of mobile methods; methods employed that embrace and celebrate the different engagement with spaces that being mobile produces. It adds to understanding the ‘lived environment’ (Lefebvre 1991), providing a different type of detailed insight into the way people and place combine. This paper will discuss the use of walking as a means and a method – a way of getting to know the research site and gathering qualitative data through the process. It is based on qualitative, in-depth research conducted in a park in Dublin that took place over three years. During this time, walking was employed to get to know the park and to watch the different cultural and social acts occurring within its boundaries, to uncover the interactions and webs that constructed the landscape of the park, and to engage with the natural and the social in different ways allowing the relationship between place and identity to emerge. Walking through the park changed according to time of day, day of the week, time of the year and the weather; which meant that the social was constantly relating and related to the natural in an interaction that produced meaning and developed ways of engaging with the space.

1.2 The rhythm and practice of walking leads to a different understanding from a static one; you experience the world differently if you are walking, cycling, driving or sitting still. While not gaining the richness of the ‘dwelling perspective’ of Ingold (1993), it does allow the inclusion of his key ideas. The ‘…landscape tells – or rather is – a story’ (Ingold 1993: 152), and through the dwelling perspective Ingold tries to get to know this story ‘better’. The methods employed through the research that this paper is based upon are employed to do the same thing. ‘And through living in it, the landscape becomes a part of us, just as we are a part of it’ (Ingold 1993: 154); through walking we become a different part of the landscape, not a dweller but a walker.

1.3 Increasingly, attention is being turned to the use of mobile methodologies in social science research, partly in recognition of the importance of generating understandings of mobilities and to create more dynamic understandings of space and place. Law and Urry (2003) suggest the need to develop methods that can deal with the ‘fleeting’, ‘distributed’ ‘multiple’, ‘sensory’, ‘emotional’ and ‘kinaesthetic’ of our everyday realities and that method needs to be,

‘…sensitive to the complex and elusive. It needs to be more mobile. It needs to find ways of knowing the slipperiness of ‘units that are not’ as they move in and beyond old categories’. (Law and Urry 2003, p10-11)

1.4 Peripatetic practices have begun to infuse thinking about qualitative research, with research centres being devoted to it (National Centre for Research Methods: Real Life Methods Node in Manchester and Leeds), and different publications and approaches to social life becoming sensitised to it (Hall et al. 2006; Anderson 2004). At the core of all these approaches is the realisation that the mobility of walking within particular environments allows for the creation of meaning. By walking people are able to connect times and places through the grounded experience of their material environment.

1.5 This paper thinks about how this meaning-making has been achieved through the process and practice of walking as a method and a means. This means recognising the affinity between personal narratives and the movement through place (Hall et al. 2006), as de Certeau notes stories ‘traverse and organise places; they select and link them together, they make sentences and itineraries out of them’ (1984: 115). This paper considers the stories about a particular place in Dublin that emerged through walking, and the way that this allows the researcher, and the research, to enter a whole new space: a thirdspace of epistemology.

The Research Site: a Dublin Space, a Thirdspace

2.1 The research site is Phoenix Park in Dublin. It was chosen because of its rich colonial history, centrality to Dublin life, both physically and culturally, and as the location of important monuments of and to Irish life. The park has a long history, going back to the 1500s, when it was the site of a monastery. Over the next five hundred years, the park was mostly controlled by the British Crown, until Irish independence. Following independence, many of the institutions that had been present there during the colonial period were replaced by their Irish counterparts, for example, the Irish army, Irish police force the Garda Siochana, and the Irish president are all now based in the park.

2.2 Located on the north-west of the quays, the park is central to Dublin life. The cultural events that occur in it, both organised and arbitrary, are important aspects to the daily lives of many of the capital’s inhabitants. Many people commute through the park, or leave their cars there to catch the Dublin tram, the Luas. It is very convenient to Heuston Station, the main train station for the south of the country. Organised events that occur in the space range from car racing, to the Dublin marathon. It is also the site of about four concerts a year, and is the space used for various important homecomings, such as the Irish football team after a World Cup. Looking slightly further back, it was the space of very important events within the Irish imagination; the visit of the Pope in 1979, when nearly a third of the Irish population, over a million people, attended. This was an important occasion for the Irish people – it was the first time a Pope had visited the island, and marked an entrance onto the world stage for Ireland. It was also the location of the 1929 Eucharistic Congress, another important step onto a world stage for the newly independent Ireland. As such, it can understood to be the space of important cultural and material artefacts of Irish identity.

2.3 The space of the park was something that was walked and talked through with the participants (visitors to the park, residents, employees). To engage with the meanings this method created the idea of Thirdspace (Soja 1996; Bhabha 1994) and the way this epistemological, theoretical position can be adapted to praxis, is an important subject of discussion. Thirdspace presents potential for expanding the scope of our geographical imaginations about the spatiality of life. The park becomes a thirdspace of meaning creation through the praxis of walking and talking; as Hall et al summarise, ‘…movement – walking – has been taking us to places, to perspectives on biography, transition and local change, that are altogether different from those with which we first set out’ (2006). As such, the method of walking in the park took the researcher not only to new spaces physically, but epistemological as well.

Entering the Thirdspace

3.1 The combination of views from different theorists that engage with the idea of Third Space, allows the radical openness of Thirdspace to be actively constructed. Thirdspace must be understood as an ‘open-ended set of defining moments’ (Soja 1996: 260), a concept that speaks to various different theoretical ideas and draws them into its wide understanding. As such, we should understand Lefebvre’s lived spaces (1991), Foucault’s hetertopias (1986), bell hook’s homeplaces and Bhabha’s (1991) third space as part of the Thirdspace adopted in this paper. Thirdspace offers a way of engaging critically with theoretical issues, while simultaneously being that space where the debate occurs. It is a place of enunciation, where new identities can be forged and marginalised voices can speak. As hooks radically discusses,

‘This is a response from the radical space of my marginality. It is a space of resistance. It is a space I choose … This is an intervention. A message from that space in the margin that is a site of creativity and power, that inclusive space where we recover ourselves, where we move in solidarity to erase the category colonized/ colonizer. Marginality as a site of resistance. Enter that space. Let us meet there. Enter that space’. (hooks, 1990: 152)

3.2 This radical space is the epistemological and cultural position of resistance and marginality that is so important to ideas of Thirdspace; a place between self and Other, between centre and periphery; it is a marginal space that we can all occupy as Hetherington describes;

‘… these may be places on the edge of things … but they can also be spaces right at the centre of things, spaces in which the State or big business may … choose to surround … with barbed wire, police dogs and tear gas. They may also be insignificant, everyday sites that are only made visible by what unusual goings on may be seen to occur there. In other words, they may be margins at the edge, margins at the centre, or transparent margins that are normally hidden from view.’ (Hetherington 1998: 130)

3.3 Anderson (2002), following Pile (1994) recognises the potential of the Thirdspace for mobilising place, politics and hybrid identities, which can,

‘facilitate new combinations of once dualized elements that augment and supplement knowledge production. By flexibly combining ideas, events, appearances and meanings, Thirdspace offers an epistemology that can respond to changing contexts’. (Anderson 2002: 304)
This can then be ‘creatively open to redefinition and expansion in new directions’ (Soja 1996: 2). So, this idea of Thirdspace is important in a number of ways. First as an epistemological starting point for developing the idea of a mobile method that is spatially, culturally and historically aware. Second as a geographical metaphor which provides a position within which this research is situated – the park is a thirdspace; between city and country, past and present, colonial and postcolonial it is a site of the enunciation of identity, lived experience and contested meanings. Third it is a site of praxis, a place where the theory and the method meet, a methodological journey to Thirdspace. This paper dwells on the third aspect; the meeting point between theory and praxis, constructing a position where theory and method blur together, where theory is method and method is theory. The methods used are done so in a conscious way to reflect the theoretical position being adopted, the methodology is linked to the epistemological stance, thus engaging with a Thirdspace from which praxis may emerge.

3.4 Thirdspace is adopted as a literal space in this paper as well as an epistemological one. The park in which the research was carried out occupies a liminal position in many respects; it is adopted as a theoretical ‘space’, as a way of disrupting binaries and problematising identity relationships, and it is a methodological ‘space’; where different methods are discussed and the reasons for their use and potential uses of data are discussed. The thirdspace between theory and research; trying to produce a space (a thirdspace) where the production of theory is not distanced from what Routledge (1996) discusses as ‘immediatism’ – direct, lived experience. Instead of becoming engaged in representations of (an) other reality, and alienated from the lived moment, this paper proposes a third space of theoryandpraxis; where it is not spectator knowledge (Mies 1983) that is being produced, but rather a thirdspace between research and theory, in an attempt to live theory in the immediate (Routledge 1996).

3.5 Routledge (1996) proposes this idea through a different means, when he imagines the third space as critical engagement. For him, the amalgamation of different parts of his life, as an academic and as an activist, produced an active third space, allowing him to explore, work through and research the dual sites and spheres of his activities. This position is adopted by Routledge is an attempt to break down the barriers between the personal and the political; ‘implying a commitment to deconstruct the barrier between the academy and the lives of the people it professes to represent, so that scholarly work interprets and effects social change’ (Routledge 1996: 400). As such, follow Routledge (1996), this paper argues that ‘critical engagement strives to work both within the academy and outside it, to live theory as a series of practices – experimental, experiential, imaginative’ (Routledge 1996: 403, my emphasis).

‘The third space involves a simultaneous coming and going in a borderland between different modes of action, and a prerequisite for this is that we must believe that we can inhabit these different sites, making each a space of relative comfort. To do so will require inventing creative ways to cross perceived and real “borders”. The third space is thus a place of invention and transformational encounters, a dynamic in-between space that is imbued with the traces, relays, ambivalence, ambiguities and contradictions, with the feelings and practices of both sites, to fashion something different, unexpected’. (Bhabha 1994)
‘It is about imagining and creating a profusion of spaces that are brought together, however momentarily, in what Spivak (1990: 111) calls a productive crisis’. (Routledge 1996: 407)

3.6 It is about a fluidity within and between different positions and its potential for unexpected encounters to flower between one site and another; just like a walk enables different narratives, positions, themes and locations to emerge and amalgamate, allowing a fluidity in praxis and theory application that is organic and based on the potential for different locations to facilitate different empirical interests.

3.7 The next section engages with walking as a method which facilitates entry into a third space between theory and praxis, or theoryandpraxis, which allows a critical engagement with the space and our subjective self, and time to reflect on and react to the subjects of the research.

Going for a Wander…

4.1 Walking is a wonderful way of gathering data. Places are not only a medium but also an outcome of action, producing and being produced through human practice. Walking within a place produces meaning and constructs understanding, and the rational of walking has altered from different times, as has the aesthetic of the park where people walk. As Casey suggests, the human body physically encounters places, through a process he calls ‘outgoing’, and simultaneously inscribes traces of location on the human self by laying down ‘incoming’ strata of meaning (Casey 2001: 688). Reciprocally and over time, this process also influences the meaning of places by inscribing different strata over time and developing a social memory and meaning of the place. As Halbwachs (1992) argues, due to the co-ingredience of self and place, the spatiality of memory links the social and the personal. Time alongside practice sediments meaning into places, with personal memories meshing with cultural meanings on an individual and societal scale and, as a result of these relationships, individuals engender meanings and significances for particular places. Certain sites act as sites for the formation and performance of identity (Hetherington 1998), and the process through which this occurs is something that can be uncovered by spending times with the people and in the places. As such, walking can act as a way of inhabiting the dwelling perspective of Ingold, and the links between Halbwachs co-ingredience; it allows us to occupy the space for an extended period of time while engaging with the spatial and cultural practices that constitute it.

4.2 De Certeau (1984) recognises the ability of walkers to uncover ‘secret terrains’ of cities when differentiating between the controlled public city and the secret urban terrain navigated by walkers, or ‘the ordinary practitioners of the city’ as he calls them. De Certeau deals primarily with the everyday experience that, as he argues, ‘has a certain strangeness that does not surface’ (1984: 93). He writes that in their everyday lives, walkers make use of these unseen spaces and in so doing subvert, ‘the clear text of the planned and readable city’ (1984: 93). De Certeau’s discussion of walkers ties in with what walking is being used to do in this paper; uncover spaces that would not be accessible using a different means of transport or movement.

4.3 Anderson (2004) follows Casey (2001) by discussing the cultural practice of ‘bimbling’ (or aimlessly walking) through a co-ingredient environment, which can be harnessed to prompt theretofore unstated or unrecalled knowledge of the life-world. Bimbling involves wandering, reinforcing the relationship with the place through which you are moving, to reminisce about the space and re-visit life-course memories associated with the place. Solnit suggests that,

‘Walking… is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart…Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes making a chord’. (Solnit 2001: 5)

4.4 The process of bimbling allows an opportunity for a dialogue to emerge not simply between the body and mind of the individual, but also between the individual and the place (Anderson 2004: 258). As Anderson describes,

‘It was thus a form of bodily movement that, in ‘outgoing’ to the environment, new as well as old inscriptions of meaning could be created and, more interestingly for research, re-encountered. As key areas, landmarks and places were bimbled through, the relaxing, relatively aimless purpose of the exercise could open up the sense to allow the re-calling of incidents, feelings and experiences that were constitutive of the individual’s understanding of the life world’. (2004: 258)

4.5 This process invokes memories of a place, personal and cultural, and it works off the signs and symbols in the space, moving between social understandings of different events and personal webs of understanding. As a method of gathering information, it reinvents places through memory and meaning and signs and symbols, it introduces complex webs of history in personal narratives, and develops new gazes through which places constitute and are constructed by ideas of self, the other and the narratives of identity that fall in-between (Bhabha 1994).

4.6 Walking through a park means diverse things in different epochs to different people and there are a number of gazes through which the place is assimilated. The park has altered in use and aesthetic through different epochs; it has changed from a Royal Deer Park where its primary use was for hunting to a grand, Victorian Park where it was fashionable to be seen during the Dublin ‘season’ during colonial rule. In contemporary Dublin it has assumed a position of state importance, with the President’s house and the official state ‘guest house’, Farmleigh, found within its walls. As the Park has changed, the ways and reasons why people have walked through it have changed as well. In fact, even within the contemporary Park it is possible to identify numerous different reasons why people are there. As such, it must be understood that the bimble through the Park is a subjective experience and what is seen is contingent on the knowledge the ‘bimbler’ has of the park and its history.

4.7 In this way, space is a triadic construct in the sense that it is a creation, a site of production and a site to be experienced and consumed. The park is a constructed landscape, shaped by sets of agents that are caught up in a web of social, cultural and political circumstances. Every landscape is a synthesis of culture and context, a text which may be read to reveal the force of dominant ideas and prevailing practices, as well as the idiosyncrasies of a particular author (Ley and Duncan 1993). In Phoenix Park, the Management propose and make prevalent a dominant discourse that involves certain assumptions about history, identity and place but there are many other discourses that help constitute the park. As Cosgrave (Cosgrave 1984: 269) argues, ‘landscape is a social and cultural product, a way of seeing projected onto the land’, and there are a number of ways of seeing and understanding the place that is Phoenix Park.

4.8 The different ways of knowing Phoenix Park stem from personal experience of the space, historical understanding of the different events that have occurred in the park and communal use and interaction with the place. These different tenets come together to form a unique site that allows the interrogation of postcolonial identity, liminality and hybridity. The first time I walked through the park my understandings and observations were very different from the walks undertaken towards the end of the research period. After spending time there, I recognised faces and places, knew who to stop and try and talk to and who would ‘power-walk’ past. Those people who were there on their lunch breaks gaining some exercise were far different socially than those who had come to the park with their grandchildren, or for a day out to visit the zoo (which is within the walls). These people used and experienced the space differently to how I used it. As my appreciation of the history increased, my appreciation of the different components of the Park also heightened. As Solnit summarises poetically,

‘the rhythm of walking generates a rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between the internal and the external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were travelling rather than making.’ (2001: 5)

Mobile Methods or Methods Going Mobile?

5.1 So, what did walking afford me that a different method would not have? Primarily, it allowed me to really connect with the park; it allowed me to spend long amounts of time getting to know my research subject. It allowed me to experience the natural elements of the park at ground level, something discussed in the section below. It was a very ‘natural’ way of gathering data, something that emerged organically – I had to get from outside the park to points inside it, and, as public transport stops at the gate, my mode of transport was by foot. Initially, these journeys were seen as problematic; they were an inconvenience that meant I had to traverse the park, avoid getting lost, and find the meeting place for the participant, or the visitor centre for some further examination of the displays. During these initial walks, I stayed on the main thoroughfare, head down, earphones in, rehearsing questions I would ask, or posters I would examine. This changed when the cancellation of an interview left me in the park with no place to go. And so, sun shining, I decided to go for a walk. I left the main road, and wandered down a side road, which became a path. This was the first of many walks that took this form, walking down paths I hadn’t walked down before, or retracing favoured paths through scenic areas. Through this process, I came to know the park. Once I had developed this surface knowledge (literal and figurative), it was time to scrape deeper. In addition to walking the quieter routes, I walked where other people walked, and when they walked. I joined the power walkers at lunch time, and watched as they kept their heads down and earphones in. I saw commuters wearily wander to their cars, or make their way through the park to their post-work destinations. On weekends I saw people walking with no clear destination in mind, strolling along looking at the trees and flowers. Others sat in the park at the weekend, or ate picnics. By walking the same paths at different times I encountered different things, and saw the areas and spaces differently. At night, some places in the park were dangerous, and felt unwelcoming. In fact, anywhere off the main avenue invoke feelings of fear, a combination of the dark and the stories that constructed the park at night as a dangerous place. There were reported high incidences of drug use and prostitution in certain areas of the Park at night, and joy-riding was a problem. The seasons also played an important role; during the summer the park was far busier than during the winter, when it felt isolated and empty. Autumn brought a different beauty, and tourists started to flood in.

5.2 Walking provided me with another access point to data collection; I had grown to know the regular faces along paths I walked, and I was able to approach them to talk to them at this point in the research. These ‘interviews’ were more like encounters than anything textbooks would call interviews. They didn’t take place in a quiet, secluded room where we would be sure of no interruption. Instead, they took place in the park, open to the elements, open to the noise of the park; encounters open to the other walkers, open to the vastness of the space. With most of these encounters we remained standing where I had approached the participant, but with some I walked alongside them. Conventional research advice warns against these sorts of interviews – they add an extra chance that something can go wrong (Denscombe 1998). As Hall et al (2006) recognise mobile interviews shift the balance of control away from the researcher. But despite all the sound warnings that methods books heed, this method enables more than it constrains; it is well worth the risk.

5.3 While traditionally interviews are static, organised, predictable interactions, this paper demonstrates that walking facilitates the movement into new places; new spaces of narrative. As Hall et al (2006) describe, the interview becomes a three-way conversation, with interviewer, participant and locality engaged in an exchange of ideas, ‘place has been under discussion but, more than this, and crucially, underfoot and all around and as much more of an active, present participant in the conversation, able to prompt and interject’ (Hall et al. 2006: 3). As such, the method facilitates the production of different data, mobile, place-sensitive and open to a little uncertainty.

Crossing the Ground

6.1 The following is an example of a story collected as part of this method. The participant is a retired man, who, when approached, was sitting reading a paper on a Park bench but who wandered along with me as we chatted. This story informs a discussion of one of the sites of contested meaning in the park, which was brought to my attention by the use of this mobile method. The significance of this vignette is that the cross in the ground that the example focuses on might not have been accessed without actually passing it, as we did on our walk. The man presumed I would have known about, as an old Dubliner he was aware of its presence, but actually it was something hidden from most histories, and was brought up in interviews with park officials only when I prompted, though then they were very happy to discuss it.

6.2 While walking along with the participant we chatted about various things. I had opened the interview with a question as to what he did in the park, which prompted him to stand up and start walking towards a spot he met with friends regularly; opposite Áras an Uachtarain. His day was structured around this, ‘better than being in the pub’ as he said. He would spend some time reading his paper and then walk up to meet a group where they would spend time catching up and talking about important events since they had last seen each other (football scores, friends’ lives). As we walked together we talked about crime in the park, prompted by a group of men sitting drinking in a sheltered area. This prompted the man to think about the history of crime in the park, specifically murder, and as we walked towards Áras an Uachtarain, the conversation moved to the Phoenix Park murders.

6.3 This important historical event occurred in 1882, when members of the Invincibles, a Fenian terrorist splinter group, stabbed the Chief Secretary, Lord Frederick Cavendish and his Undersecretary Thomas Burke to death. This event was understood as either an act of legitimate violence against an occupying army, or a murderous act committed by villains. It occurred in a time of changing relations between Ireland and the UK, and had the potential to tip the scales towards violence, on either side. However, the nationalist leaders widely condemned the action which moved the independence movement towards peaceful methods and negotiation. There is no official memorial for the men killed in the park, at the request of the widow of the Chief Superintendent.

6.4 The thing of folklore, and something which was dismissed by some officials in the Park as myth, is a small cross cut into the bank of grass opposite Áras an Uachtaráin, where the Phoenix Park murders occurred. The secretary at the head office in Phoenix Park jokingly described how she felt it was put there by taxi drivers in an attempt to increase business through tourism, and she recalls how she and a Park Ranger saw a taxi pull up opposite Áras an Uachtaráin, but didn’t know if that was what was why. I only discovered it as I walked with a man to meet a group of his friends and our location and discussion of the murders intersected and the man described the location of the cross as we walked by on the other side of the road. It wasn’t exactly where the man had said, and so I spent an hour later the same day searching along an embankment, until I finally did find it. Overgrown and smaller than I expected, the cross was essentially scratched into the ground, though there were some wood panels around it and gravel inside. If you didn’t know it was there it wouldn’t have attracted attention. Without ground level knowledge of the park, as the participant had, the cross would have been missed, and without the mobile method that enable the discussion about the different things which prompted the identification of the cross, that knowledge would not have been made available to the researcher. By transcending the landscape on foot, the proximity to these marks and crosses is immediate and in this case it allowed entry into a particular narrative that might otherwise been missed. Of course, this proximity also can be exclusionary; if the walk doesn’t go past a particular setting the conversation may not turn to it, though through mobile methods there is a higher chance of ‘stumbling’ onto it in the conversation as it ambles along at the rhythm of the walk.


7.1 This paper has taken an amble through spatial theory, epistemological spaces and a postcolonial place. It has engaged with Thirdspace through the spatial imaginations that this allows, the epistemological stances it traverses and the methodological position that has been developed. The purpose of this paper has been the demonstration of what Thirdspace methods might look like, and it uses the research carried out in the park in Dublin to inform this. The park itself constitutes a third space; a space separate from city and countryside, a site that posits itself between colonial and postcolonial identity and a place of new identity formation and resistance. The epistemological position that this paper positions itself in is a Thirdspace; informed by Soja’s (1996) trialectic of spatiality, historicality and sociality, by Lefebvre’s (1991) Lived Space, Perceived Space and Conceived Space, by Bhabha’s (1994) third space of enunciation, by bell hooks’ (1990) homeplace, by Foucault’s (1986) hetertopias and by Hetherington’s (1998) and Shields’ (1992) margins. But what has this paper constructed the methods as? How can the methods described above, centred on the act of walking as data collection, be understood in relation to Thirdspace? These questions are engaged with in this concluding section.

7.2 The first key issue presented in this paper in the construction of a methods of (or from) Thirdspace is the incorporation of spatial awareness into sociological processes. Space is understood as a triadic construct in the sense that it is a creation, a site of production and a site to be experienced and consumed; so time spent there both affects the researcher and the research. To incorporate it into a Thirdspace methodology, we must alter the way we understand social research and recognise the influence that spatial practices hold in understandings of the social. This means that research moves towards a trialectic of historicality, sociality and spatiality (Soja 1996) in its understanding of social process and places.

7.3 It is also important to be aware of emergent of subaltern voices that may not be uncovered through conventional methods; the example of the cross in the ground demonstrates this. By walking through a place new meanings can be uncovered that may be concealed or do not exist in dominant discourses. The narratives that emerge through engaging with places, through walking or spending more time there, are part of developing the ‘dwelling perspective’ of Ingold (1993), or the lived space of Lefebvre (1991). These are knowledges that emerge from understanding the place as ‘realandimagined’, that there are things there that maps and interviews do not capture; something beyond these methods. To engage in this sort of relationship with the place, and the people who are there, there has to be an interaction that becomes active and mobile; that can change and adapt depending on what is presented and represented.

7.4 Thirdspace argues for the breakdown of binaries, and the emergence of an-Other, a third space of enunciation and political and cultural resistance. This breakdown of binaries must therefore be applied to the research process, and these methods facilitate a breakdown in the researcher/ participant binary, as the participants become experts on their own lived experiences of the space, and can take the researcher by the hand and lead them on a bimble. It goes beyond this relationship and into the realm of epistemology; the researcher must be recognised as part of the construction of the research site, and as such all ‘data’ that emerges should be read as being co-constructed by the researcher. Once this is acknowledged, and even celebrated, the data produced can be understood as a political action; a way of knowing and of producing knowledge that is actively engaged with. Through this method, it is possible to enter the space with bell hooks, enter the space of resistance and political difference to engage actively with the theory in the practical realm.

7.5 Walking whilst talking and mobile methods allow new spaces to be discovered during their practice. These new spaces are both physical – the cross in the ground – and epistemological – the man’s understanding of the cross and the meaning it held for him. Through the rhythm and practice of walking, narratives emerge that might not have been uncovered in a stationary interview. The three way conversation between place, researcher and participant (Hall et al. 2006) means that new themes emerge that would not have come out if it was a traditional interview. This means that the walking allows a new space of enunciation to emerge, a new space of inquiry and discussion to be opened. Through walking, the researcher and the participant bimble into new narratives, and discover and construct new spaces together as a result.


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