Rethinking the Geographies of Walkability in Small City Centers
What can be learned from conversations about walkability per se and specific ideas about the embodied geographies of walking? In this article, we work with the idea of a walking assemblage and the related concept of territory to clarify how social and material entities might promote or impede journeys on foot. Our analysis is grounded in ethnographic data collected about everyday walking among twenty-five residents in the center of Wollongong, a small city on the east coast of Australia. In presenting our interpretation, we attend to the embodied geographies of walkability. The concept of territory offers the potential to think about walkability as both performed and enfolded via the emotional and affective forces between and through proximate bodies and objects through processes of reterritorialization and deterritorialization. Although our case study is specific, our conceptual gaze is extensive and has salience for others concerned with walking, with small cities, and with thinking about how best to foster the conditions in which people thrive. We offer theoretical and policy-relevant conclusions that signal the importance of engaging with the nuances of the embodied geographies of walking.