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Walking through the Past and the Future

In the last few years I have returned to the walking interviews that I made as part of my PhD project and research project on the redevelopment of the old industrial area by Gustaf Dalénsgatan in Hisingen respectively. My focus has been on how people in conversations by foot talks about the past and the future. The analysis will be presented in the book: Walking through social science av Charlotte Bates och Alex Rhys-Taylor (red.) scheduled for release by Routledge spring 2017. This is how my chapter “Keep walking: Notes on how to research urban pasts and futures”:

What did the daily passing of the empty lot where the paint factory once stood mean to Jani, who used to work there as a young man after he came to Sweden from Finland in the 60s? Why were Sofia and Karin, who were involved in the marketing of the new up-scale residential area about to be built there instead, investigating stories of the “good old days” in the area? And what did the shopping centre that Emir brought me to, only weeks after he had gotten his residence permit, have to do with his future? I have been using walk-alongs as part of my methodology for ten years now, and by now I have walked Gothenburg with a number of people who live their lives here under very different circumstances. In this article I will return to three walks and elaborate on what there is to gain from interviewing people on foot. I suggest that one issue that seems impossible to ignore as you accompany people on their everyday routes in the city is time, and I will look closer at how and why my co-walkers talk about the past and the future during our walks. I will also argue that this is something that researchers who are interested in inclusive urban politics ought to pay attention to. My research revolves around the social aspects of city planning, and more specifically the conflicts of interest that are always part of this process and how they are negotiated in the everyday life of the people affected.

Project leader: Helena Holgersson
Project period: 2015–2017
Funding: The Faculty of Arts


Contact Information

Helena Holgersson

PO Box 200, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

Visiting Address:
Renströmsgatan 6 , 41255 Göteborg

+46 (0)31-786 2780

Page Manager: Felicia Bigot Klinteberg|Last update: 10/19/2016

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