"When a beach is a lot of beaches": environmental perceptions in an urban beach
(Pablo de Olavide University)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on the results of an ethnographic research this paper describes the manifold uses of an urban beach, showing the several ways the coastscape becomes significative for those who use it.
Paper long abstract:
Cadiz (Andalusia, Spain) is a small coastal city that has deployed an urban development model based on leisure and tourism sectors as response to local deindustrialization. This transition has lead to a progressive transformation and reinterpretation of its urban coastscape, regarded by administrators as one of the main attractors for foreign investors and visitants. One of the places most affected by this process has been La Caleta beach, found at city's downtown. Due to its particular location, history and morphology, this small beach boasts a diversity of maritime fauna, being also an important local heritage site which, alongside, functions customarily as one of the city's most emblematic, active and dynamic open public spaces. These factors have made of the beach a commonplace shared by people who develop activities ranging from artisanal fishing to archaeological research as well as tourism, sunbathing, scuba diving or ball sports gaming, among others.
Drawing on the ethnographic results of a current doctoral research project, this paper analyses the taskscape of the beach together with its recent past and its users' narratives. Deeming the activities that perform this coastscape as means through which the beach is perceived, becomes knowable and valuable for those who interact within it, we describe the manifold ways through which it turns meaningful for the locals and the several ideas of nature they put into play in the process. By doing so, we develop a reflection upon the configuration of local environmental imaginaries.
Living together in changing environments: towards an anthropology of multiple natures in Europe and beyond