Biosocial Walking: Investigating the emotions of urban walking for migrants from the global south

Project leader: Tess Osborne
Human Geography, Dept of Geography, Geology and the Environment, U. of Leicester, Leicester, UK


Dr Danielle Drozdzewski, Assoc. Prof. in Human Geography, Dept of Human Geography, Stockholm University


In ‘an age of migration’, feeling like one belongs has become paramount amid a highly mobile and globalised society – how can everyone feel at ‘home’ if home is not their country of origin? Walking, as a mode of transport, has been shown to stimulate a sense of belonging; yet the practice of walking in everyday urban life for international migrants, and how it shapes a sense of belonging is seldom explored. Biosocial Walking will address this gap, by developing and employing a biosocial understanding of the everyday walking experiences of migrants from the global south in different urban contexts in the global north. In doing so, this project will unpack both the biological and social experiences of walking to provide an innovative and holistic understanding of migrants’ experiences, needs and the challenges they face walking in a new urban area. This project will adopt an interdisciplinary mixed-methods approach consisting of wearable biosensors, a smartphone application and walking interviews to capture a combination of biological and social experiences of urban walking. By synthesising these approaches, Biosocial Walking will uncover new understandings of the walking experiences and will advance existing work in the field by connecting walking with emotions in migration studies, thus embedding the practice of walking in broader discussions of post-migration urban living. Additionally, the project will generate new insights into mobility practices, sense of place, and the experiences of migrants from the global south who are not necessarily dominant in policy discourses of urban policy and active transport.