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Title: Navigating slow, 'fast' and crafted knowledges: knowing through Cittaslow
Authors: Holland, Tessa
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis argues that a conceptualisation of Slow, ‘fast’ and crafted knowledges provides a new way to think about contextual conflicts of understanding in everyday life. The project was developed with the UK branch of the international network of Slow towns, Cittaslow. It involved working on in-depth qualitative case studies with support from collaborative partners and alongside diverse stakeholders and residents of member towns. Cittaslow represents an attempt to make new accommodation with a changing world, using a vision that incorporates the benefits of modernity while simultaneously valuing the traditional life-skills and human-scale quotidian needs of town residents. Arising from an original proposal which emphasised method, the project evolved to draw in the philosophy of the Slow Movement, re-imagining Slow as an analytical and methodological approach that can be used to critique power relations produced by the dominance of ‘fast’ narratives. The thesis develops a theorisation of Slow and ‘fast’, and interprets knowledges in the light of these understandings. Findings from fieldwork are discussed to shed light on the idea of ‘conflicts of knowing’: where different ways of understanding the world are afforded various degrees of credibility, impacting their potential for agency. The research revealed that some knowledge systems come to dominate and delegitimise others at the expense of local identities and livelihoods – with the potential to also impact environmental and economic factors. The discussion reframes previous analyses of Cittaslow and introduces a craft perspective as an aspect of Slow. This allows an exploration of acts of ‘making’: how research is made; how the field is made; how local knowledges are made; and how Slow identities are made – or sought to be made. It proposes the geographical analogy of navigating (as with a compass) as an alternative to applying a template (as if reading from a map), and suggests these concepts allow new understandings to emerge. Slow, ‘fast’ and crafted knowledges are analytical and conceptual framings that can reveal subtle power dynamics without entrenching superficial differences. Instead they reveal where hidden continuities underlie apparently oppositional categories, and so invite a re-imagining of where mutually beneficial synergies might lie.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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