Walking Collective Journal Issue 01 Open Call: “Dispersal”

As a collective, we are captivated by the experiential intersections of walking, thinking, and being. Usually, we strive to do this together- through meet-ups, walks, and gatherings, most commonly in New York. In our present moment, however, we find ourselves separated by distance and context. We find ourselves, in a word, dispersed. While this phenomenon has coincided with experiences of profound isolation and separation, it has also opened up novel possibilities and modes of relating to each other and the world(s) around us.

Many seeds appear like a galaxy on a wool sock.
Many seeds appear like a galaxy on a wool sock.

Dispersal takes many forms. From the Latin dispersus, past participle of dispergere “to scatter,” from dis– “apart, in every direction” and spargere “to scatter,” dispersal refers to acts or processes of distribution, diffusion, dispersion, circulation, and diaspora. Seeds disperse not only on the wind, but through the digestive tracts of birds, on the pelts of elk, or under the cuffs of woolen socks—a cascade of dispersal across species, scales, and worlds. As ecosystems change, wildlife disperses in search of new habitats or territories. Settlers set up frontiers only to disperse into and beyond them; migrants disperse across national borders and high seas. Protesters are dispersed by police clubs and tear gas, only to reconvene and disperse the police. Memes disperse through networks; speech disperses over airwaves. Through the same devices and infrastructures, everyday forms of learning, socializing, and labor have become increasingly dispersed as well. Just as the virus itself is dispersed through our breath, so the dispersal of practices and forms of knowledge—new and old—offer us a host of paths forward: methods to live by, struggle with, and even flourish through, in a present characterized by violence, death, and climate catastrophe, as well as by solidarity, comradery, and care.

While the current moment, in particular, lends itself to walking distinct pathways, there is space for fellowship. More than ever before, the ambulatory feels like an opportunity to explore how dispersed movement bridges and connects diverse communities. Could the process of dispersal engender new navigation strategies and shared orientations? Might walking itself constitute an “art of living on a damaged planet?” [1] Could learning how to become puriq masi—walking partners—offer companionship across worlds? [2] Sharing dispersed perspectives, the inaugural issue of the Walking Collective Journal, “Dispersal,” aims to open a mobile conversation about the possibilities of dispersed walking across social, ecological, ethical, and political worlds.

In 2020-2021, the Walking Collective—founded by students across NYU and supported by the Gallatin School of Individualized Study—is embarking on a year of contemplation and practice addressing the plurality of meanings and experiences of walking in this fraught moment. We invite inspired makers, writers, artists, and thinkers to submit original work to be included in our inaugural issue of the Walking Collective Journal: “Dispersal.” We welcome original artwork across visual and auditory media, and pieces of writing in any form—fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose—that address themes of walking and dispersal. Works will be accepted for print and/or online publishing, depending on desire and fit. Inspired by the fluidity of walking, as a practice and analogue, our journal seeks interdisciplinary mediations on movement and meaning. We welcome both works-in-progress and experiments of all kinds.

Rolling deadline for acceptance. We aim to publish in the late Spring or early Summer.

Please submit your pitches and works-in-progress pieces to: walkingcollective.xyz@gmail.com

Works Cited:

[1] Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubandt, eds. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017.

[2] Cadena, Marisol de la. Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.