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The past 10-15 years has seen the growth of walking groups taking walkers from Amman to rural parts of Jordan at weekends and the development of the Jordan Trail. Through the narration and analysis of everyday accounts of walking, this paper explores political geographies of identity, movement, and territory in Jordan. Drawing on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork, I suggest that at the heart of a growth of walking for leisure in Jordan are important political questions. How is walking conditioned by situated cultural politics? How can walking unearth intimate and embodied accounts of territory in Jordan? I build upon three developments in political geography to do this. First, research on political geography and walking; second research on everyday political geographies of the Middle East; third, critical and feminist work on territory. Literature on political geography and walking is developed by centring Jordanian walkers and the (post)colonial context of Jordan to explore what walking means under different political conditions and for individual bodies. In doing so I contribute to work on identity and nationalism in Jordan and the importance of the everyday to explore political geographies of the Middle East. I develop critical and feminist work on territory by arguing that walking bodies make and contest territory and in doing so calling for greater synergies between cultural and political geography. These arguments are made in two empirical sections. The first explores how different people talk about walking, the language for walking, and assumptions about walking bodies. The second explores how walking connects different bodies to territory, and creates territorial nationalist narratives, but also how walking can highlight indigenous and embodied relations with territory. This paper concludes that walking is political because it shapes and is shaped by situated political geographies and because it enables embodied and intimate accounts of territory to emerge.
Mason, O. (2021). A political geography of walking in Jordan: Movement and politics. Political Geography, 88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2021.102392