Culture on the ground: the world perceived through the feet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

308 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Classical accounts of human evolution posit a progressive differentiation between the hands as instruments of rational intelligence and feet as integral to the mechanics of bipedal locomotion. Yet evolutionists were modelling pedestrian performance on the striding gait of boot-clad Europeans. The bias of head over heels in their accounts follows a long-standing tendency, in western thought and science, to elevate the plane of social and cultural life over the ground of nature. This tendency was already established among European elites in the practice of destination-oriented travel, the use of shoes and chairs, and the valorization of upright posture. It was further reinforced in urban societies through paving the streets. The groundlessness of metropolitan life remains embedded not only in western social structures but also in the disciplines of anthropology, psychology and biology. A more grounded approach to human movement, sensitive to embodied skills of footwork, opens up new terrain in the study of environmental perception, the history of technology, landscape formation and human anatomical evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-340
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Material Culture
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • body techniques
  • boots and shoes
  • feet
  • human evolution
  • walking
  • LOCOMOTION

Cite this

Culture on the ground: the world perceived through the feet. / Ingold, Timothy.

In: Journal of Material Culture, Vol. 9, No. 3, 2004, p. 315-340.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{b121ef3da85d48ce9e0b0b477fd15c1f,
title = "Culture on the ground: the world perceived through the feet",
abstract = "Classical accounts of human evolution posit a progressive differentiation between the hands as instruments of rational intelligence and feet as integral to the mechanics of bipedal locomotion. Yet evolutionists were modelling pedestrian performance on the striding gait of boot-clad Europeans. The bias of head over heels in their accounts follows a long-standing tendency, in western thought and science, to elevate the plane of social and cultural life over the ground of nature. This tendency was already established among European elites in the practice of destination-oriented travel, the use of shoes and chairs, and the valorization of upright posture. It was further reinforced in urban societies through paving the streets. The groundlessness of metropolitan life remains embedded not only in western social structures but also in the disciplines of anthropology, psychology and biology. A more grounded approach to human movement, sensitive to embodied skills of footwork, opens up new terrain in the study of environmental perception, the history of technology, landscape formation and human anatomical evolution.",
keywords = "body techniques, boots and shoes, feet, human evolution, walking, LOCOMOTION",
author = "Timothy Ingold",
year = "2004",
doi = "10.1177/1359183504046896",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
pages = "315--340",
journal = "Journal of Material Culture",
issn = "1359-1835",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Culture on the ground: the world perceived through the feet

AU - Ingold, Timothy

PY - 2004

Y1 - 2004

N2 - Classical accounts of human evolution posit a progressive differentiation between the hands as instruments of rational intelligence and feet as integral to the mechanics of bipedal locomotion. Yet evolutionists were modelling pedestrian performance on the striding gait of boot-clad Europeans. The bias of head over heels in their accounts follows a long-standing tendency, in western thought and science, to elevate the plane of social and cultural life over the ground of nature. This tendency was already established among European elites in the practice of destination-oriented travel, the use of shoes and chairs, and the valorization of upright posture. It was further reinforced in urban societies through paving the streets. The groundlessness of metropolitan life remains embedded not only in western social structures but also in the disciplines of anthropology, psychology and biology. A more grounded approach to human movement, sensitive to embodied skills of footwork, opens up new terrain in the study of environmental perception, the history of technology, landscape formation and human anatomical evolution.

AB - Classical accounts of human evolution posit a progressive differentiation between the hands as instruments of rational intelligence and feet as integral to the mechanics of bipedal locomotion. Yet evolutionists were modelling pedestrian performance on the striding gait of boot-clad Europeans. The bias of head over heels in their accounts follows a long-standing tendency, in western thought and science, to elevate the plane of social and cultural life over the ground of nature. This tendency was already established among European elites in the practice of destination-oriented travel, the use of shoes and chairs, and the valorization of upright posture. It was further reinforced in urban societies through paving the streets. The groundlessness of metropolitan life remains embedded not only in western social structures but also in the disciplines of anthropology, psychology and biology. A more grounded approach to human movement, sensitive to embodied skills of footwork, opens up new terrain in the study of environmental perception, the history of technology, landscape formation and human anatomical evolution.

KW - body techniques

KW - boots and shoes

KW - feet

KW - human evolution

KW - walking

KW - LOCOMOTION

U2 - 10.1177/1359183504046896

DO - 10.1177/1359183504046896

M3 - Article

VL - 9

SP - 315

EP - 340

JO - Journal of Material Culture

JF - Journal of Material Culture

SN - 1359-1835

IS - 3

ER -