Pedestrian Research or Walking as Method


  • Matthias Egeler Institut für Skandinavistik, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany



Walking, landscape, storytelling, case study Iceland


In the history of religions, both places and stories play a central role: places are where human religious life plays itself out – ‘takes place’ –, while telling stories is one of the main ways how human beings communicate about the invisible others that are gods, saints, spirits, and magic powers. This article will discuss how fieldwork-based research can bring both places and stories together. A substantial category of supernatural storytelling consists in narratives that are connected to specific locations in the physical landscape, such as narratives about manifestations of supernatural entities or foundation legends. The article explains how it can be a fruitful approach to such narratives to systematically walk both the sites and the connecting routes between the sites that these stories are associated with. In analogy to the technique of a ‘close reading’ in the study of literature, a ‘close walking’ of story places can help to establish their contexts in everyday life, including aspects such as land use, economy, social frames of reference, or topography. Sometimes it can even shed light on the composition of narratives, as lines of sight in the physical topography can interrelate with the motifs used in a story.




How to Cite

Egeler, M. (2024). Pedestrian Research or Walking as Method. Marburg Journal of Religion, 25(1).