Sensory ethnography and the cycling body: Challenges of research and communication
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractRecent interest in sensory ethnography has challenged ethnographers to extend their attention beyond the visual and into the full sensory world. This paper reports on the experiences of a six-month research project exploring the sensory world of cycle users in and around Munich. It explores two contrasting but complimentary sets of urban journeys, one constrained by streetscapes, and one by greenways and urban parks. The conscious employment of a sensory studies approach assists the researcher to consider how the processes of cycling involve a whole body sensory experience. It also questions the adequacy of the western sensory five-sense construct, which is generally limited to external sensory input and lacks clear articulation of the intra-bodily senses of muscle feel, fatigues and stress. Thus, it begins to unpack the complex of elements subsumed within the general heading of kineaesthetics in recent studies of cycling and walking. Combining visual ethnography - using filmed journeying - with GPS and biometric data, (heart rates and power measurement), more commonly associated with sports training and analysis, provides a different view of the embodied journeying even at a mundane level. These ‘objective’ or ‘hard’ data measurements are also mediated through autoethnographic considerations of the subjective feelings and experiences associated with these ‘hard’ data. A conventional written paper is presented with accompanying film - incorporating data overlay - so that the story of a sample (composite) journey can narrate the findings of the research.
CitationConference paper given at the Challenge of cycling mobility: Body, energy and urban space at 1st AIBR International Conference of Anthropology in Madrid, Spain, 7-10 July 2015.
SponsorsResearch enabled by a Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship IAF-2014-016
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