The South West Coast Path is one of the 15 ‘national trails’ in the United Kingdomthat pass through ‘some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in Britain’ (www.nationaltrail.co.uk). It runs for 630 miles around the coastline of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, and as such affords the possibility for a continuous waymarked trek, as well as shorter walks and strolls.In recent years the path has been a space of geographical experimentation and the focus of debates in human geography regarding landscape and subjectivity (see also Sidaway 2009, Wylie 2005).1 This chapter revisits the path to further explore the role of body practices such as walking in the production of subjectivities, paying attention in particular to the role of cultural tropes of self-transformation, and to the practice of walking as a ‘technique of the self’ (Foucault 1988). The empirical material in this chapter derives from a ‘loose ethnography’ of the South West Coast Path, which involved a combination of research methods including walking interviews, group walks and autoethnographic research, as well as archival research on the many diaries and journals kept at the headquarters of the South West Coast Path Association (SWCPA). These modes of enquiry were used to investigate how the space of the path is both performed and practised, and how these performances and practices contribute to the production of subjectivities, imaginaries and forms of life. Attention was paid particularly to the role of materials and practices in the production of subjectivities. In this chapter, empirical examples are used to discuss the material production of the self in transformation, referring to specific ways through which participants use walking, photography and diaries in order to‘work on themselves’.
|Title of host publication||Travel and transformation|
|Editors||Garth Lean, Russell Staiff, Emma Waterton|
|Place of Publication||Farnham|
|Number of pages||13|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2014|