Walking as method 

While a research permit from the Army Command to the bases of Pori Prigade and Utti Jaeger Regiment was denied, I luckily got permit to study the sense of a collective body and its influence on emotions among the first-year cadets of the Finnish Defence University.

    It is my first day of fieldwork, and their first day of training. The purpose of the intensive day of physical performance is team-building (ryhmäytyminen), by enduring and moving together. I believe I am present as an observer, and that I will have no role to play. But I am wrong, and I will later re-write the script in the following way.


Walking with soldiers is:


— walking with

If you walk beside someone, you see more. This is an act of witnessing. ‘Understand’ is such an academic word; you need to empathize. (Bulmer and Jackson 2016, 9).

It was one thing to walk at the end of the group and another to walk beside someone. At the end of the group, I could safely observe; when walking beside I was listening to my body and the bodies of others. The placement of bodies matters.

— bodily activity

Fieldwork is necessarily an embodied activity (Coffey 1999, 59).

The researcher is embodied, the field is embodied and the ethnographer’s notes are likely to have daily mentions of the body whatever the topic and framework. “Knowing is a direct material engagement” (Barad 2012, 52). This is the relational ontology: my experience depends on how I measure it. Our ontologies are entangled, dependent on each other moment-to-moment. 

I had written in my field notes that I felt stiff. But I felt tense in my body only when we walked through the city, not after we had moved under the trees, away from an audience. Walking is such an automatic bodily activity that it does not require attention. If walking is difficult for some reason, or impossible, walking sensations become important. When I think about walking, I begin to feel as if I was walking. When I pass a particular site that we traversed during the walk, I immediately travel in time, and my body remembers the march. 


— a meeting space of an autobiographical impulse and an ethnographic moment

[...] the autoethnographic text emerges from the researcher’s bodily standpoint as she is continually recognizing and interpreting the residue traces of culture inscribed upon her hide from interacting with others in contexts (Spry 2001, 711).