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Playing with fear: Parkour and the mobility of emotion


Saville, S. J.



Social and Cultural Geography

Tipo de publicación

Artículo de revista



Palabras clave

fear, parkour, freerunning, emotional geography, mobility, place, play


This article engages debates on emotional geography and non-representational theory by considering fear as a distinctly mobile engagement with our environment. Parkour, or freerunning, has exploded into public consciousness through commercial media representations and films. It is depicted as a spectacular urban sport that either can or cannot be done. Through ethnographic research with groups of parkour practitioners I consider what has been excluded from these representations: the emotions involved in trying, experimenting, and gradually learning to be in places differently. In parkour places are ‘done’ or mobilised in tentative, unsure, ungainly and unfinished ways which can be characterised by a kind of play with architecture. I argue that this play is contingent upon an array of fears, which, rather than being entirely negative, are an important way in which practitioners engage with place. Here fears can manifest differently, not only restricting mobility, but in some cases encouraging imaginative and playful forms of movement.


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