As walking researchers, we are aware of the ways that walking is commodified and normalized. Walking tours become an ‘easy’ means by which tourists can ‘experience’ a place. WalkingLab’s ongoing efforts of Queering the Trail are significant because they emphasize the speculative and experimental potential of walking as research, while simultaneously attending to the complexities of subjectivities, mobilities, and situatedness.
Queering the Trail as a concept for critical walking methodologies disrupts the all too common tropes of walkers drifting through the city or rambling along a country path, and the normative narratives that inscribe walking as healthy and meditative.
Walking can be overlooked in qualitative research because of its ablest Euro-Western history or because it is assumed to be uncritical. Likewise, with the increasing advancement and turn to digital technologies, walking is marginalized because of its pedestrian and everyday nature. Conversely, walking can be romanticized as a method to counter technology, and conceptualized as a practice of ‘returning’ to something ‘more-human and more-embodied.’
WalkingLab collaborator David Shannon lead a series of Queering the Trail walks in Iceland. Dressed like a queer and dishevelled park ranger and carrying a hot pink Queering the Trail felt pennant, the walks use humour and the unexpected to disrupt the conventional flows of walking tours challenging the general public’s ideas of tourism, recreation, and the natural environment.