Accessibility statement

Methods on the Move: experiencing and imagining borders, risk & belonging

Methods on the Move: experiencing and imagining borders, risk & belonging builds upon and consolidates a long history of using walking as a creative method for doing social research with artists and communities on asylum, migration and  marginalisation.

Walking methods are a particularly relevant and helpful way of studying borders, risk and belonging given that walking can involve physically crossing borders, going into areas perceived as ‘risky,’ or, literally walking the border. Borders can also be internal[ised] and walking is a helpful route to understand the lived experiences of others as well as eliciting rich phenomenological material.

Taking a walk with someone is a powerful way of communicating about experiences; one can become ‘attuned’ to another, connect in a lived embodied way with the feelings and corporeality of another. Walking with another opens up a space for dialogue where embodied knowledge, experience and memories can be shared (O’Neill and Hubbard 2011).


The intention of the Leverhulme Research Fellowship is to:

  • explore walking as a method for conducting research on borders, risk and belonging;
  • conduct walking research with participants/co-walkers (artists, academics, researchers & residents in the UK and across the globe) to access their  experience and reflections on border places and spaces;
  • advance innovations in biographical  & visual/performative methods;
  • reflect on the social justice impact of the collaborative research findings and walks.
  • The web resource/word press site  will document the walks in the form of a walking blog that will include the  maps, images, sound files in order to contribute to understanding ‘borders, risk and belonging’ in the 21st century.

The project will also reflect upon the social justice impact of the collaborative research findings with the aim of enhancing knowledge and understanding  of walking as a method across an interdisciplinary terrain-particularly  for the arts and social sciences/sociology.


The research is undertaken by inviting participants to walk with me around a route of their choice on the theme of on borders, risk and/or belonging. The walks seek to explore the participant’s experiences, meanings, knowledge and understanding of borders, risk and belonging connected to the place /space chosen by them in conversation [walking interview] along the walk. Walks have been undertaken so far with sociologists, artists and activists.

The intention is to produce a web resource/word press site that includes maps from the walks, images and sound files. A book and articles on the subject of mobile, multi-modal and sensory methods will be produced in order to contribute to understanding ‘borders, risk and belonging’ in the 21st century and advance innovations in biographical and visual methods.



O’Neill, M and Perivolaris, J. (2015) 'A sense of Belonging: walking with Thaer through migration, memories and space in Crossings' Journal of Migration & Culture Volume 5 Numbers 2 & 3 pp 327-338.

Published Version: 

Haaken, J. and O’Neill, M. (2014) 'Moving images: Psychoanalytically-informed visual methods in documenting the lives of women migrants and asylum-seekers' in Journal of Health Psychology 19(1) pp 79-89

Published Version: 

O’Neill, M. and Hubbard, P. (2010) ‘Walking, Sensing, Belonging: ethno-mimesis as performative praxis’ in Visual Studies Vol,25, No1

Pink, S. Hubbard, P. O’Neill, M. & Radley, A. (2010) Special Edition of Visual Studies on Walking, Art and Ethnography, Vol 25, No 1.

Book Sections

O’Neill, M. (2016) ‘Researching Marginalisation with mixed methods’ in Liquid Criminology? Doing Imaginative Criminological Research. Edited by Michael Hviid Jacobsen, and Sandra Walklate. London:Routledge

O’Neill, M. (2014) ‘Body and Image-Space: walking, transition and belonging’ in Transit Lives: Memory and Nostalgia in Contemporary Art Edited by Dr Ming Turner and Dr Outi Remes, Liverpool University Press.

O’Neill, M. and Stenning, P. (2014) Walking biographies and innovations in visual and participatory methods: Community, Politics and Resistance in Downtown East Side Vancouver in The Medialization of Auto/Biographies:Different Forms and their Communicative Contexts co-edited by Heinz,C. and Hornung, G. Hamburg:UVK

Website, Blog and Links

  • a website that documents and shares the walks undertaken by Maggie O’Neill as part of her Leverhulme Research Fellowship with a specific focus on borders, risk and belonging.
  • Women’s Lives, well-being and Community
  • Community, Politics and Resistance in DTES Vancouver Interurban Gallery, DTES, Vancouver. Supported by the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. Documented by AHA Media - Part 1 and Part 2.

Leverhulme Trust

This project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust through their Research Fellowship scheme.

Research starts: October 2015

Research ends: September 2016

Grant reference number: RF-2015-316

Contact details

Professor Maggie O'Neill