Inspired by Patrick Keiller's The Robinson Institute, currently on show at the Tate Britain, we present Verso's guide to political walking. We also draw influence from Will Self's Guardian article in which he pronounces that "walking is political" and suggests that the "contemporary flâneur" can be one "who seeks equality of access, freedom of movement and the dissolution of corporate and state control."
1. Wanderlust - Rebecca Solnit
The first general history of walking, Rebecca Solnit's book finds a profound relationship between walking and thinking, walking and culture, and argues for the necessity of preserving the time and space in which to walk in an ever more automobile-dependent and accelerated world.
2. Savage Messiah - Laura Oldfield Ford
Savage Messiah collects Laura Oldfield Ford's black and white, cut 'n' paste, punk fanzines that document her drift through London's margins. Illustrated with haunting line drawings of forgotten people and places, Oldfield Ford records the beauty and anger at the city's edges.
3. The Situationists and the City- edited by Tom McDonough
Collecting key texts from the '50s and '60s, The Situationists and the City is a testament to the idea of the city as a terrain of potential revolution. The Situationists imagined that society could be changed if the urban framework was transformed. They would engage in 'dérives', drifting across the city to see it less as a site of consumption and work but more as a place of play.
4. The Beach Beneath the Street- McKenzie Wark
Over fifty years after the Situationist International (SI) first appeared, the group's restlessly creative experiments in the practice of life - of living, playing and working together - continues to influence activists, artists and theorists. From the anti-cuts network UK Uncut and hacker and pirate practices, to versions of pyschogeography in the popular writings of Iain Sinclair, Peter Ackroyd and Will Self, traces of the whole spectrum of Situationist ideas and practices can be found throughout culture today.
5. A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain - Owen Hatherley
Erudite, radical and viciously funny, Owen Hatherley's compelling modern-day tour of the country's towns and cities - from Southampton to Liverpool - turns architecture into a window onto early 21st society in the UK. Hatherley maps the now-decrepit Britain of the 2010s, the most emphatic expression of neoliberalism in crisis.
6. A New Kind of Bleak - Owen Hatherley
Following on from A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, Owen Hatherley investigates the fate of British cities in the desolate new world of savage public-sector cuts. Crisscrossing Britain from Aberdeen to Plymouth, from Croydon to Belfast, A New Kind of Bleak finds a landscape left to rot- and discovers strange and potentially radical things growing in the wasteland.
7. Rebel Cities - David Harvey
Harvey presents a rousing manifesto on the right to the city, arguing the way cities are being shaped now - by financial interest - is profoundly anti-democratic. In Rebel Cities, David Harvey places the city at the heart of both capital and class struggles, looking at locations ranging from Johannesburg to Mumbai, and from New York City to São Paulo.
8. London: Bread and Circuses - Jonathan Glancey
A passionate essay attacking the ways in which London's citizens are encouraged to remain apolitical, pleasure-seeking and rebellion-free. Glancey argues that we should not be distracted from addressing the pressing issues facing the city, and warns that the creative energy that keeps London going will be crushed if the public good is not defended.
9. The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps - Eric Hazan
Radical Parisian author Eric Hazan guides us through streets that whisper of the city's fraught, violent, yet inspiring past. This is the Paris of barricades, of riots, uprisings and revolutions.
10. A People's History of London - John Rees & Lindsey German
London may be the home of empire, monarchy and power, yet, for nearly 2000 years, the city has been a breeding ground for radical ideas, home to thinkers, heretics and rebels from John Wycliffe to Karl Marx. A People's History of London journeys to a city of pamphleteers, agitators, exiles and revolutionaries, where millions of people have struggled in obscurity to secure a better future.
11. Restless Cities - edited by Matthew Beaumont & Gregory Dart
Restless Cities reimagines the city is a site of constant change and attempts to trace the patterns that define modern urban life and its effect on individuals. Includes chapters on phenomena such as nightwalking, urbicide, property, commuting and recycling. With contributions from Marshall Berman, Esther Leslie, Kasia Boddy, Iain Borden, Rachel Bowlby, Iain Sinclair, David Trotter, and Mark W. Turner.
12. Night Haunts - Sukhdev Sandhu
Sandhu journeys across London to find out whether the London night really has been rendered insipid by street lighting and CCTV. He wades through the sewers, follows graffiti artists as they paint the city and accompanies the marine patrol looking for midnight corpses. Beautifully written, Night Haunts seeks to reclaim the mystery and romance of the city, to revitalize the great myth of London for a new century.