Env05
Amphibious dwelling: exploring life between wet and dry

Convenors:
Franz Krause (University of Cologne)
Mark Harris (University of St Andrews)
Stream:
Environment
Location:
KWZ 0.606
Start time:
29 March, 2017 at 8:30
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel discusses ways of amphibious dwelling and probes into the theoretical and methodological tools for approaching life between water and land.

Long abstract:

Accusing classic anthropological research of a bias towards terra firma, recent work has emphasised the water-bound ways of social and cultural production. Human dwelling, so the critique goes, unfolds as much in relation to water as grounded on dry land. While this intervention has undoubtedly helped to uncover some disciplinary blind spots, it implicitly or explicitly reaffirms a divide of the world into wet and dry, water and land. This panel seeks to take the discussion beyond this divide by focusing on the amphibious - ways of life in a world that is dry at times and wet at others, and often a mixture of both. This is the world of floodplain inhabitants, coastal people, river delta denizens, and wetland dwellers, among others. We invite presentations that describe the dwelling practices of such people and analyse their particular amphibious predicaments - for instance in terms of crisis (climate change, flooding, subsidence, salinization, etc), craft (infrastructures, material cultures, social arrangements) or creativity (volatile hydrosociality, skilled improvisations, rhythms). Our aim is to better understand what - if anything - is specific about amphibious life, and what theories and methods are best geared to grasping how people dwell between and beyond wet and dry.