- Shadows on the path: negotiating geopolitics on an urban section of Britain’s South West Coast Path
- Environment and Planning D - Society & Space
- Volume | Issue number
- 27 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
The challenge of producing geographical narrative has recently been enhanced through work under the banners of affect and nonrepresentational theory. This has been registered in a range of topics in cultural, social, and political geography, and impacted in work on landscape. Such work has antecedents in several decades of humanistic geography and is immersed in more recent writings on performance and subjectivity and the critical rethinking of being, dwelling, movement, and place. With those and allied works in mind, this paper interrogates such literatures through writing about walking an urban section (through the port of Plymouth) of Britain’s South West Coast Path; one of the few places where any of the twenty demarcated national trails and long-distance routes in the UK intersects a city. The existence of a rich literature on strolling in urban space opens up possibilities and connections. However the approach here is deliberately eclectic and also draws on works from/about geopolitics, natural history, and urban studies. My purpose here is to bring such literatures into closer and productive dialogue, through an account that shifts geographical and temporal scales and perspectives. This is done through the device of an evening’s walk along a section of the path: negotiating spaces of capital and sovereignty. Military geography and security/insecurity emerge as master keys to how topography has been shaped here and the paper draws a series of connections between landscape, life, death, and military activities, both near and far. What the paper aims to do, therefore, is to illustrate how geopolitics affects us—to illustrate how the repercussions of militarism, war, and death are folded into the textures of an everyday urban fabric. This has implications for how other landscapes, places, and paths might be understood.
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