URBAN & ACADEMIC INTERVENTION: Running (In) your City is a book chapter (2019, pictured, above) and performance-lecture (2015, click on the video clip). The book is in Mobilities, Literature, Culture, edited by Marian Aguiar, Charlotte Mathieson, and Lynne Pearce, 163–86. S.l.: Palgrave Macmillan (2019). The performance-lecture took place at the ESRC-funded ‘Running Dialogues’, Roxy Bar & Screen in London (2015). They both draw on an earlier performance given at American Annual Geographers’ Meeting in Chicago (2015), as well as Chapter II of my PhD thesis at University College London, The Physical and Poetic Processes of Running (2013), which has been downloaded 4353 times between Summer 2014-Spring 2020. See other mind-spinning slideshows here which are my attempts to enact the agility of running and the existential restlessness of the mind and soul.
CONTEXTS: Discourses in urban intervention and the cultural canon of walking have centred around bodies that are white, male, privileged and able. Mobilities research, an interdisciplinary field which investigates how ideas, information and people move, are studying the embodied subjectivities of ‘non-traditional’ bodies. However, it had not realised the creative potential of running. This lecture and book chapter introduce running as a subjective mobile method. It is in the first ever book on literary and cultural scholars’ engagement with mobilities scholarship. I conceptualised four playful tactics for individuals to re-imagine the running body as a powerful, everyday medium to achieve a sense of ownership of place, with a case study of the city. They are: ‘speed-play-drift’, ‘playing hide and seek’, activating the body as a ‘sight and site of protest’, and ‘transcending the spectacle’. I embedded Chinese Daoist frameworks of body-mind-place, and autoethnography as a non-white, non-neurotypical migrant woman. I also drew on my research on running as an artistic research paradigm (since 2009) and the restless body-mind as a mode of inquiry (since 1994). To enact the playfulness of running, I mobilised a performative voice referencing the art manifesto, and activated run-related idioms and metaphors, as also evident in the title ‘Running (In) Your City’.
ABSTRACT IN BOOK CHAPTER: As we run in or through the city, can we also metaphorically ‘run’ it? This chapter introduces four tactics of ‘running art-fully’ as a mobile method within the city. Set against the backdrop of running as a mass fitness practice and a world in frenetic commotion, I draw on my own art practice, and include practices and concepts from the Situationist International and the Chinese philosophy of Daoism (Taoism). I want to catalyse people from all walks – artists, non-artists, runners, non-runners – to consider the poetic implications and applications of running, and how that interplays with mobilities and visual art, and to invent yet other ‘strong minded acts of imagination’ to interrogate the status quo.
HEADINGS IN BOOK CHAPTER:
- (Introduction) Starting points: Giving walking a run for its money; At the junction of mobilities, visual art and running; At this juncture, today; Getting there
- I. Activate the speed-play-drift
- II. Play hide and seek
- III. Don’t hide, be seen: your running body as a sight and site of protest
- IV. Transcending the Spectacle
- (Conclusion) Let your imagination run riot
(POTENTIAL) IMPACTS: This research advances mobilities research which is led by sociologist Monika Büscher and others, by introducing running as a subjective, creative, urban, decolonised and neurodivergent mobile method. It uses personal mobility, global movement, surveillance, neurology and the body elide with Situationism and Daoism to glance off each other in a poetic manifesto. This counters discourses on walking by/about bodies that are white, male and privileged, and those that discuss running as a sport or fitness activity. Using a Chinese body-mind-place framework, and embedding embodied perspectives as a non-white, migrant woman, this research critiques the field’s limited definition of ‘the canon’. It invites the field to learn from non-western ontologies and epistemologies. It also extends the emerging ‘mobility art’ or ‘artmobs’ strand, which I co-founded in 2018. It foregrounds artistic research and advances mobilities research’s agenda, inviting researchers to work ‘experimentally, exploratively, critically and reflectively’ (Tan and Southern, 2018). My writing approach contributes to discourses exploring the interplay between art writing, writing as art and knowledge-creation. The performative voice mobilises run-related idioms and metaphors. Its free-associative form enacts the playfulness of running. This destabilises the expositional, ‘neutral’ or objective approach demanded in academia, and urges researchers to consider the creative possibilities of writing in (enacting) mobilities. This research demonstrates originality in its imaginative and creative scope, and evinces an awareness of the field. It has been cited by leading mobilities scholars (including Southern, Rose, and O’Keefe 2017; Barry 2020; Büscher et al. 2020). Büscher has labelled this method ‘running art-fully’ (2018), and included my recent research through neurodiversity and ‘dyslexic writing’ as a chapter ‘Run riot! On mobilities, life, and death (of civilisation), and the reveries of running artfully’, in the new Handbook on Methods and Applications for Mobilities Research (eds: Büscher, Freudendal-Pedersen, Kesselring, Edward Elgar 2020).