Walking a public geography through Ireland and Scotland



In 2006, I completed a 1500 km walk along the west coasts of Ireland and Scotland, crossing national boundaries and linking Gaelic-speaking communities. Over the next 2 years I wrote a book about this journey for audiences within and beyond academia (Murphy 2009, At the edge: walking the Atlantic Coast of Ireland and Scotland). In this paper I analyse the walk and book as a ‘public geography’, focusing on the ‘conversations’ with publics which took place. At one level the analysis highlights the difficulties and opportunities that arise with public geography, particularly around academics using such ‘conversations’ to encourage progressive social change. More broadly it suggests that the term ‘public geography’ is too vague and that public geographers should be more open about the particular type of public geography they are engaged in. To illustrate this point I argue that my walk/book was a postcolonial public geography.