This panel explores the (im)mobilities of water dwelling lifestyles and their relationship with (state) power. How are water mobilities practiced, governed and represented in various waterscapes? What are the challenges, advantages and metaphorical possibilities of dwelling on water?
Water is 'simultaneously an element, a flow, a means of transport, a life-sustaining substance, a life-threatening force, the subject, the object, and often the very means of social and cultural activity' (Krause and Strang, 2016: 633). It can cement state power (Wittfogel, 1958) or resist it, due to its boundary-confounding qualities, smooth in a Deleuzeo-Guattarian (1988) sense. It is the laminar quality of water that makes various mobilities possible - but it also creates frictions, complicating the boundaries between moving and staying. Beyond a literal dialectical complicating of mobility and immobility (further complicated by the various moorings, ports and other architectures that tie boats to the land), waterscapes are also a font of metaphors; a rich creative resource. Since there are different ways of dwelling (Ingold, 2000) on and with water, we are interested in what ways this presents a challenge to overwhelmingly sedentary states and their terra-centric logics. Itinerant boat-dwellers on the waterways of Britain (Bowles, 2016) or in the Mediterranean (Rogelja, 2015) and international seafarers (Sampson, 2014) all demonstrate particular new relationships with state power. Considering waterscapes as spaces of dwelling compels us to discuss them in a phenomenological and politico-theoretical fashion. Can dwelling on water open up (an)other place in space? We invite proposals that discuss any of the above themes, and that focus on ethnography or other research conducted with groups dwelling on water for various amounts of time, be that inland waterways (rivers, canals, lakes), seas or oceans.