Enskilment and place-responsiveness in outdoor studies

Ways of life

Authored by: Mike Brown , Brian Wattchow

Routledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies

Print publication date:  November  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138782884
eBook ISBN: 9781315768465
Adobe ISBN: 9781317666523


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We open this chapter with a scene familiar to many practitioners in outdoor studies. Imagine a group of students and their outdoor guide or teacher as they are about to embark on a journey. They form a circle and consult their maps. Through the transparent skin of their map cases they can see their compasses and the topographic maps neatly folded to show the country they will traverse in the day ahead. They pinpoint their position among the grid work of northings and eastings. Their guide points to a spot towards the edge of the map – their intended destination for the evening. It is an everyday scene, and learning to navigate through unfamiliar terrain is no doubt an important skill. Yet the social anthropologist Ingold raises serious questions about what such a scene reveals, and hides, about people’s perceptions of landscape, and their attachments and detachments from outdoor places. Navigation, Ingold (2000, p. 235) argues, begins with the question ‘Where am I?’ How we attempt to answer this question reveals a great deal about our association with the places we live, work and travel within.

For the map-using stranger, making his [sic.] way in unfamiliar country, ‘being here’ or ‘going there’ generally entails the ability to identify one’s current or intended future position with a certain spatial or geographic location, defined by the intersection of particular coordinates on the map. (Ingold, 2000, p. 219)

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