1st Edition

Walking into the Void A Historical Sociology and Political Anthropology of Walking

By Arpad Szakolczai, Agnes Horvath Copyright 2018
    232 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    232 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The book starts by discussing the significance of walking for the experience of being human, including a comparative study of the language and cultures of walking. It then reviews in detail, relying on archaeology, two turning points of human history: the emergence of cave art sanctuaries and a new cultural practice of long-distance ‘pilgrimages’, implying a descent into such caves, thus literally the ‘void’; and the abandonment of walking culture through settlement at the end of the Ice Age, around the time when the visiting of cave sanctuaries also stopped. The rise of philosophy and Christianity is then presented as two returns to walking. The book closes by looking at the ambivalent relationship of contemporary modernity to walking, where its radical abandonment is combined with attempts at returns.

    The book ventures an unprecedented genealogy of walking culture, bringing together archaeological studies distant in both time and place, and having a special focus on the significance of the rise of representative art for human history. Our genealogy helped to identify settlement not as the glorious origin of civilisation, but rather as a source of an extremely problematic development. The findings of the book should be relevant for social scientists, as well as those interested in walking and its cultural and civilisational significance, or in the direction and meaning of human history.



    Part I Walking into Sense

    1 The Experience of Walking

    2 The Language and Culture of Walking

    3 The Dilemma of Representing the Void: Michel Foucault and Francis Yates

    Part II The Flourishing and Demise of Walking Culture

    4 Chauvet: The Cave of Wonders, or Representation as Transgression

    5 Pergouset: The Cave of Monsters, and its Aftermath

    6 Natufian Settlement: Technology, Representation, Standing Reserve

    7 Göbekli Tepe: Sanctuary as Trickster Bestiary, or the Revival of Transgression

    8 Çatalhöyük: The Culmination of Settlement

    9 Tassili: Incubating Transformation, Or A Training Ground for The Magi

    Part III Returns to Walking

    10 Walking in Philosophy and Religion

    11 Walking in Mountains: The Vocation of Losing Oneself

    12 Experiencing Walking






    Agnes Horvath is a visiting research fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Moral Foundations of Economy and Society, University College Cork, Ireland. She has a Doctorate in Law (ELTE, Budapest, 1981), an MA in Sociology (University of Economics, Budapest, 1988) and a PhD in Social and Political Sciences (European University Institute, Florence, 2000). Horvath has published books and articles in English, French, Italian and Hungarian, including Modernism and Charisma (Palgrave, 2013), Breaking Boundaries: Varieties of Liminality (Berghahn, 2015, with Bjorn Thomassen and Harald Wydra), and The Dissolution of Communist Power: The Case of Hungary (Routledge, 1992, with Arpad Szakolczai). She also edited a special section on ‘The Gravity of Eros in the Contemporary’ in the December 2013 issue of History of Human Sciences, and co-edited a special issue on ‘The Political Anthropology of Ethnic and Religious Minorities’ for Nationalism and Ethnic Politics (Routledge, March 2017). She is one of the founding editors of the peer-reviewed academic journal International Political Anthropology.

    Arpad Szakolczai is Professor of Sociology at University College Cork. His books include La scoperta della società (Carocci, 2003, with Giovanna Procacci) as well as Max Weber and Michel Foucault: Parallel Life-Works (1998), Reflexive Historical Sociology (2000), The Genesis of Modernity (2003), Sociology, Religion and Grace: A Quest for the Renaissance (2007), Novels and the Sociology of the Contemporary (2016), Permanent Liminality and Modernity (2017) and Comedy and the Public Sphere: The Re-birth of Theatre as Comedy and the Genealogy of the Modern Public Arena (2013), all published by Routledge. He has published articles in the American Journal of Sociology, Theory, Culture and Society, Cultural Sociology, Current Sociology, History of the Human Sciences, the European Journal of Social Theory, International Sociology, the British Journal of Political Science, East European Politics and Society, the European Sociological Review, the British Journal of Sociology and International Political Anthropology.

    "This book takes quite an original approach. I enjoyed reading it."

    Jean Clottes, Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Archaeology, University of the Witwatersrand.

    'This book is a tour de force; a beautiful, poetic, scholarly and sensitive archaeology of walking in human history that builds upon the authors’ experience of walking together and their combined theoretical and methodological body of work – a meeting of historical sociology and political anthropology to walk the reader "back towards ourselves". A must-read for all interested in walking as experience, practice, method, art, and pilgrimage.'

    Maggie O'Neill, Chair in Sociology/Criminology, University of York, UK, author of Walking Methods: Biographical Research on the Move.

    'Walking into the Void by Agnes Horvath and Arpad Szakolczai is one of the most beautiful and fascinating books ever written on walking. Walking is outlined as much more than a means of transportation, or an activity among others. It is an experience; an experience that intensifies our aesthetic relationship to the world, hollowing that essential void out of which forms and meanings become ordered. In this book, the most archaic conditions of our culture are the subject of investigation, at the same time as the transgression of modernity is exposed as a disaster.'

    Frédéric Gros, Professor of Political Philosophy, SciencesPo, Paris, editor of the Collège de France lectures of Michel Foucault, author of A Philosophy of Walking.