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Revisiting walking as mobile place-making practice: a discursive perspective

Witte, Alexandra



Embodied mobilities are an important factor in how people engage with their environment, and thus contribute to the formation, contestation, and affirmation of place. Walking is a mobile place-making practice that most people engage in on an almost daily basis and which has thus been frequently investigated in regards to the consumption and construction of place. These explorations have predominantly been focusing on urban contexts and frequently taken the perspective of the multisensory, corporeal, cognitive, and emotional. However, discursive notions of who walks where and how, and how these ultimately contribute to place-making in tourism have been largely left unexplored. Employing a mobile approach to ethnography, walking as place-making is here considered in the context of tourism, taking a discursive perspective. Drawing on two walking groups on the Cloudpass, one of the trails of China’s Ancient Tea Horse Road in Yunnan, notions of legitimate walking practices and trails are explored in their discursive undercurrents, and resulting place-making practices are outlined in conjunction with these and the encountered ‘realities’ of the trails. Complex interactions between walking tourists’ beliefs around norms and regulations of walking and walking trails, and the Cloudpass’ official narratives come to the fore, resulting in concrete practices of affirmation and contestation of the trail’s legitimacy within tourists’ subscribed to value systems. Touristic walking emerges as a discursive place-making practice, mandating closer attention to be paid to the norms and regulations people subscribe to within touristic and recreational walking and their effects on how people engage with the places they walk. On the Cloudpass and the Ancient Tea Horse Road beyond, touristic walking practices informed by diverse discursive notions selectively strengthen narratives of place over others and concretely contribute to the trails’ changing narratives and materialities over time.


Witte, A. (2023). Revisiting walking as mobile place-making practice: a discursive perspective. Tourism Geographies, 25(1), 334-356.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 23, 2020
Online Publication Date Feb 23, 2021
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Oct 17, 2022
Journal Tourism Geographies
Print ISSN 1461-6688
Electronic ISSN 1470-1340
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 334-356
Keywords Walking, hiking, place, place-making, discourse, mobilities, embodiment, ethnography, Ancient Tea Horse Road, China
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