Drift is a qualitative methods project which combined psychogeography and mobile methods to explore the relationship between people and place.

Qualitative methods involve the researcher not only exploring respondents’ perceptions and interpretations of the world, but also explicitly positioning themselves as active interpreters of the world. This teaching project required students to employ a range of qualitative methods (including ethnography, auto-ethnography, interviews, and the use of recorded images, pictures and sound) to portray their interpretation of the place they live in: Cardiff, Wales, UK.

In other words, this assessment required students to be a ‘tour guide’ for THEIR Cardiff:

“Students take on the role of tour guides to offer their lecturer and peers a themed, theoretically informed journey through the urban landscape of [Cardiff]” (Coe & Smyth, 2010:129).

This tour was undertaken using ‘mobile [qualitative] methodologies’:

“mobile methodologies… seek to capture the ways in which being ‘in motion’ produces different kinds of experience in place and, therefore, different kinds of understanding of the world (see Ricketts Hein et al, 2008 for an overview). The tours resonate with what Sheller & Urry (2006) characterise as a ‘new mobilities’ paradigm within the social sciences that seeks to identify new research topics and methods for exploring a world that is seemingly perpetually on the move” (Coe & Smyth, 2010:129, see also Anderson, 2004).

Theoretically, this mobile tour was informed by ‘psycho-‘ and ‘mytho-geography’.

“‘Psychogeography’… involve[s] a variety of explorations of ‘the physical and psychological landscape of the city’ (Pinder, 2005:386)

“Psychogeography arises as one of a set of ideas and practices …of how places affect the psychological states of those who pass through them. With a reciprocal meaning: that the places might be changed in order to change the experiences and mental states of their residents and visitors. This was part of a theory of radical activism for the transformation of cities” (mythogeography.com).

Mythogeography emphasises the multiple nature of places and suggests multiple ways of celebrating, expressing and weaving those places and their multiple meanings” (ibid.).

This task therefore required students to ‘walk’ the city:

As Iain Sinclair emphatically puts it…: ‘Walking is the best way to explore and exploit the city…Drifting purposefully is the recommended mode’” (Pinder, 2005:396).

“The term ‘psychogeography’ refer[s] to spatial practices designed to confuse and re-imagine everyday space. The most important of these techniques was a politically purposeful ‘drifting’: a transgressive wandering” (Bonnett, 2009:46).

According to the mytho-geographical approach,

“By setting ourselves in motion through [the] world we make ourselves human movie cameras – both interpreters and producers. By the particular focuses and the angles of trajectory we choose, we make an interpretation of our world, and from our impressions we begin to re-make its meanings” (mythogeography.com).
This is my own audioslideshow:

And is an example of a drift produced by students this year:

Rhondda Valley.

Here is a short presentation outlining the aims of the Drift project.

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