Arguments from the Atlantic: The emergence of a surfing-environmentalist narrative upon the waves
David Whyte (University College London)
Paper short abstract:
This paper describes a coastal development dispute in Clare, Ireland, in order to examine the manner in which particular narratives of environmentalist resistance emerge ecologically through surfers' practical engagements with the sea.
Paper long abstract:
If water can be said to be the very means of social and cultural activity, this can also be said of the political. As surfers engage with the dynamism of waves, so they develop conceptions of environmental potency that then become foundational to emic environmentalist narratives. This paper presents ethnography of a group of surfers in Clare, Ireland, who are currently challenging the plans of the local Trump International Golf Links and Hotel to erect a boulder wall along a pristine beach in order to protect the golf course from erosion. Besides the threat which the development poses to surfable waves at the beach, the surfers argue that the agency of coastal protection resides in 'natural' processes, and not in any human interventions. This ethnographic encounter will be used to examine the specific form that this grassroots action has taken against the imposition of corporate power and that of a complicit state. It will do so by discussing how the concepts through which surfers' environmentalist resistance is expressed are derived ecologically from the terms upon which surfers encounter the potency of the near shore environment through practice.
Dwelling on water: mobilities, immobilities and metaphors