Accepted Paper:

Rhythms of taskship at sea  
Montse Pijoan (Independent Researcher)

Paper short abstract:

I show how skilled practices on board tall ships shape taskship, which is both a place and a bundle of correspondences in which boat, environment and crew become entangled. Through this entanglement, the rhythms of the sea environment make everyone on board change their ways of doing.

Paper long abstract:

I analyse the materials I gathered during extended fieldwork aboard tall ships, which are old traditional rigged ships, as part of Sail Training, focusing in particular on ‘taskship’ on board. Taskship is the dialogue between lines of task and the non-human participation of the environment. Instead of scapes, the only form continually performed at sea are the setting of sails or the shaping of the boat at each moment. Therefore, a tall ship is always in continuous formation, as is our notion of place. With the notion of taskship, I wish to emphasize not the ship as a physical moving place, but as a place in which relationships are continuously in movement, thus shaping the boat. For instance, sailors love the wind and they suffer where there is none.

Oceanic rhythm (the relationship of one movement with another at sea) turns into social correspondences when a dialogue between human and non-human beings is established. Initially, crew members experience arrhythmia, loss of body control when the extended movement of the boat in their bodies results in vomiting and seasickness. They get their sea legs after three days of adaptation. Also, the lines shaping the sails entail tensions between humans and non-humans—contrary forces and frictions that need to be compensated by skilled adjustments. Trainees learn through skilled practices and correspondences when experiencing harmony, a feeling of mutual attention and memory with oceanic rhythms. Consequently, a moral commitment to feel changes their ways of doing.

Panel P22
Rhythm, sight and sound: work in times of uncertainty
  Session 1