Published: January 2013
Author(s): Angharad Saunders, Kate Moles

Social and Cultural Geography 14(1) pp 23-40

This paper explores the spatial practices of public engagement through the consideration of an audio walk project that took place in Ebbw Vale in the summer of 2010. In the current political climate public engagement is often seen as a universal good, a way of demonstrating the productive dialogues that exist between 'experts' and their manifold publics. As studies in science communication have shown, however, this is a little misleading, for the term 'public engagement' masks a great diversity of projects and initiatives, which vary in the degree, methods and effectiveness of their engagement. In this paper, we argue that what is missing from many of these critiques is an attentiveness to the 'placing' and 'spacing' of our public engagement practices: where we work, who we work with and how we work all affect the nature, meaning and effectiveness of public engagement. Drawing on the idea of spatial practices, this paper explores the situated doing of the Ebbw Vale audio walk project.

Keywords
public engagement, spatial practices, audio walks, place, South Wales, South Wales Valleys, Ebbw Vale