Walk Slow, Pay Attention

Pakistani Tori – £1-99 kg

Network Rail’s Plans for Moray Place – Public Meeting

Clothing Bank – Islamic Relief

You Can’t Top Tunnocks – Darnley Mini-Market

New Victoria Gardens

Quality Halal Meat, Poultry, Asian Veg, Fruit, Grocers

Quality Halal Butcher


Khan Associates – Immigration, Nationality and Education Consultant

Pollockshields Church of Scotland

East Meets West        –           The Sun          Azad Newsagents

NHS Scotland                         Anas Sarwar              LABOUR

IMG_2314 IMG_2316 IMG_2317 IMG_2318 IMG_2327 IMG_2331 IMG_2334 IMG_2337 IMG_2338 IMG_2344

I made it a challenge to take notice when I was in Glasgow last week, scoping out the context of groups that were running, organisations whose focus was working with Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups and individuals in the city. Not only because it’s one of the New Economics Foundations’ Five Ways to Wellbeing which I’m totally into and which played a part in my Masters Dissertation, but also because it is only when you really

pay attention

to where you are walking in the city that you begin to build up a picture of where you are, who is there too, what people might do with their time, where they might go, what they might eat, and so on. (Also just a good tip to avoid stepping in dog turd, which I did twice when I ceased to pay attention). The idea of the ‘flaneur’, although almost exclusively white, bourgeois, Parisian men, was made use of in the 20th Century by Walter Benjamin, and used beautifully in his Arcades Project, which I want to set aside some time to properly explore with my eyes and brain.

Essentially meaning to stroll or wander aimlessly round a city with an aim to get to know its rhythms and nooks and crannies more intimately than a structured tour style way of moving through the city, it’s a great way to get a bit lost and discover and explore, which is always a fun thing to do in a new and unfamiliar city, as you almost always discover something that you wouldn’t if following the Lonely Planet marked routes.

Unusually early for a meeting, and in the unusual Glasgow sunshine, I took the opportunity to stroll around the area of Pollockshields, taking photographs of the shops, signs, things in the street that I saw which I found interesting (after all, walking around a place and paying attention is still very much a personal thing – we can only see with the eyes we have, although they may indeed be more or less open…).

It’s amazing, actually, how much more of a sense of a place you can get just by climbing out of your busy mind which is so often in other times and places (part of my fascination with the connection between place and time as outlined in my post about Massey, slowing down your pace of walking, and looking around, high and low. In this way we get a sense of the many levels of the city, both in terms of actually just the different things that are going on up high and on the ground in a literal sense, but also I suppose in a more abstract way: the different levels that are at play on our bodies as we conduct our daily life within spaces, in terms of who we are in different spaces, how we feel in different spaces, where we go and what affects these boundaries. I’ve been thinking a lot about levels and research, which I will cover in another post, but for now, let’s stick with Pollockshields.

So upon slowing down and paying attention, I saw a clear pattern of shops and facilities catering for the largely South Asian population that lives in the area. You can see in the photographs and the list of words I’ve pulled out from these photographs, that there’s an emphasis on food for particular needs (Halal), from particular places (Asian veg) and charities led by particular religious groups (Islamic Relief). I love how the landscape of shops and use of spaces changes as you walk around a city. The comparison of the kinds of good provided here contrast starkly to those you would find in the student-inhabited, trendy West End, where you’re much more likely to find cafes selling organic rye bread, little gift shops selling a rainbow of bits and bobs, and bars where you can drink cocktails from jam jars. I didn’t take any photographs here, but will do next time I go, as it is these kinds of comparisons which are interesting for building a picture of how many different wants, needs, desires, tastes are catered for, and whereabouts in the city they cluster and/or disperse.

SOMETHING ABOUT TEXT AND IMAGE –  at the beginning of this post, I first wrote a list of words which grabbed my attention from the images, and then placed the photographs in a similar list-like form, but with all the detail and context surrounding the isolated words. What I think is interesting about doing this, is that it makes me/you/us think about the relationship between image and text, both in terms of the information provided by them, the many ways they can be ‘read’, and the way that we can isolate certain elements of what we are looking at. Both in the text and the image here, I have isolated certain things in the scene, one more ‘brutally’ almost than the other, in that in the photograph I have chosen the frame, but in the text I have removed all trace of the way/place/time in which these words have been displayed in Glasgow. This is something I’m going to continue to think about, and which was explored at length already in my Masters in Visual Anthropology; looking at the work of visual anthropologists such as Douglas Harper (who is ace), Sarah Pink (also ace), and the theories of people such as Gilian Rose, in thinking through how we use and display images and text in research, both in terms of producing knowledge and representing findings. I’m sure a post will find its way onto the blog about this, particularly with a methods chapter coming up-!

So yes.


This week in Glasgow saw me meeting various people from various places, and talking to them about my research proposal, gathering information about the kinds of facilities, groups, programmes available which are relating to themes of heritage, place, ethnic identity and generational difference, and I’ve come away with a much better sense of what is going on, although there is still more scoping to be done.

I was surprised and thrilled by how keen people were to talk to me and to help me to make more links to other groups/individuals, and how interested people were in the work I am wanting to do. I have to say, spending most of my time with books and computers, I had kind of forgotten that this PhD was really about people being interested in working with me on this, and so it was great to put down the books and computers and actually just speak to peopleI’m plummeting towards moving to Glasgow in July and beginning my research in September, so getting closer to a sense of where I might be working and who I might be working with and how I will be working with them, is genuinely really exciting. I’m very much psyched about the fieldwork part of this PhD fandango, and can’t wait to see how it all takes shape.

And the obligatory limerick, this time a little Glasgow-inspired ditty

I went to the city of Glasgow,

Talked to people and wandered around slow,

I spent time in places,

Smiled at many faces, 

and now I can’t wait to get to know (it) 

Not my finest work, but hey, it’s the weekend, what do you expect? Happy Friday


One thought on “Walk Slow, Pay Attention

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