• Sharanya Murali deposited A Manifesto to Decolonise Walking in the group Group logo of Urban StudiesUrban Studies on Humanities Commons 1 year, 8 months ago

    ‘There is an economy of narrative, it will be said, an economy of memory. One cannot recount everything,’ wrote Jean-François Augoyard. ‘What can be known about what occurred during a walk?’ (2007: 68) Over the last decade, explorations on foot of New Delhi have erupted as urban practices indicative of global tourism. These range from middle-class explorations to heritage walks, ‘slum’ walks and pedestrians’ explorations of local ecologies. Delhi, as a perpetual capital-city across the centuries, has emerged as a palimpsest of loss, glamour and resistance in urban history, oral legends and poetry. Old Delhi—now part of postcolonial Delhi, but functioning as a former walled city within a larger global identity—continues to occupy a liminal position in urban discourse, its proximity to modernity still calibrated in accordance with its older history as the capital of the Mughal Empire. Walking remains the primary mode of navigation in parts of Old Delhi, speaking to the possibility of walking as a performance of everyday life in urban India, a conversation that, with a few exceptions, remains heavily focused on walking in European, American and Canadian cities (Ingold and Vergunst 2008; Shortell and Brown 2014). In this brief manifesto of differing modes of walking in the contemporary socio-cultural space of Old Delhi, I seek to explore a decolonization of contemporary conversations on walking by highlighting the necessity of contextualizing walking’s proximity with the ground. Borrowing from methodologies of performance-ethnographic writing, this photo-essay interrogates closeness with the ordinary to destabilize dominant cultural narratives on walking emerging from the West.