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Changing tracks and tracking changes: the social lives of rivers and canals 
Maarja Kaaristo (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Francesco Visentin (University of Udine)
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Aula 19
Monday 15 April, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid

Short Abstract:

Rivers and canals are socio-natural hybrids, results of environmental processes and a variety of human and non-human agencies. The panel tracks the transformation processes and biographies of inland waterways and discusses them as sites for transport, dwelling, regeneration, tourism and leisure.

Long Abstract:

The panel invites proposals from various disciplines in order to explore rivers and canals as socio-natural hybrids: results of environmental processes, human and non-human agencies, memories, narrations and sensory experiences. We will discuss inland waterways as sites of continuous change, focusing on their social lives and biographies. The life cycles of waterways consist of a combination of stages, including navigation, construction, transport, canalisation, dereliction, demolition, oblivion, redevelopment and regeneration. They are spaces for everyday life and tourism (Kaaristo & Rhoden, 2017), as well as ambivalent sites of converging and contradicting human and non-human agencies. Addressing the hybrid ontologies of the networks of these linear liquid 'tracks', we will discuss living on, with and near inland waterways. We understand hybridity as a lack of holistic meta-narratives about waterways, but instead think about them in terms of cultural ecosystems, socio-cultural adaptability and becoming (Vallerani and Visentin, 2018).

We welcome papers discussing:

- oral histories and narrations of waterways;

- embodied engagement with canals, rivers, towpaths and riverbanks by boating, walking, running, cycling or angling;

- environmental and industrial heritage;

- representations of waterways in cultural texts (art, literature, film, TV, (social) media).

- waterfront regeneration and its contribution to gentrification or to the community wellbeing;

- flood events and the everyday discourses of climate change.


Kaaristo, M., & Rhoden, S. (2017). Everyday life and water tourism mobilities: Mundane aspects of canal travel. Tourism Geographies, 19(1), 78-95.

Vallerani, F., & Visentin, F. (Eds.). (2018). Waterways and the Cultural Landscape. London: Routledge.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Monday 15 April, 2019, -