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STS Walk-Talks

In order to go full social media circle, here is a brief post on what has already been mentioned through other outlets: I'm guest-blogging on the STS at Oxford blog about yesterday's Talk-Walk on the theme of 'Visualising - what is it to visualise?'. Sub-themes include the plural meanings and widespread metaphorical use of terms that relate to the visual, the slippy concept of affordances, and the scientific and narrative powers of visualisations. This is a nice follow-up to my earlier post on the animating of lectures.

But what on earth is an STS Talk-Walk in the first place? I first encountered the concept here in Oxford where it has been initiated and described by Malte Ziewitz. As mentioned by Malte, the idea first came about in Amsterdam where Annemarie Mol took her PhD students out walking. Rumour has it that the Dutch walk considerably longer than we do here in Oxford. On the other hand, we have been able to accommodate an interesting mix of people from different departments and with different academic pursuits at the two hour long Friday afternoon talk-walks here. The phenomenon has apparently been copied at several more STS departments, and I think it is for the better - I certainly found the talk-walk format an inviting and informal way to engage with a new place and an interesting group of people.

As Malte quotes Annemarie Mol for stating, "talking-while-walking can enhance thinking in ways not attainable behind a desk or in a seminar sitting down.”


  1. Hey Andreas - first of all thank you for writing this blog. The Talk-Walk is an interesting phenomenological way of engaging with the world out there. I recently finished a report on street art and city alterisation, drawing on qualitative interviews completed in a walk´n talk session in the streets of Copenhagen. I think that Annemarie Mols point ("talking-while-walking can enhance thinking in ways not attainable behind a desk or in a seminar sitting down.”) is very well put, and it promises for a very rich, an as you say inviting and informal methodological approach. Personally I drew my inspiration from the 'walk´n talk' used for business meetings, thinking that the approach would lead me to interesting 'thick' data, as I talked with my informants about the city, while they experienced it - without knowing it I was of course making Mols assumption. It also proved interesting to do a follow-up interview. After having walked for 30 minutes, we sat down in small resturante and talked, retrospectively about the informants take on the city, and about their experiences and the comments they made in the walk´n talk session, or Talk-Walk session, an interesting, and sort of in the moment, movement between first-order typifications and second-order typifications.


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