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Accepted Paper:

Waterscape as a hybrid space of engagement: reconceptualising waterways through affordance theory  
Maarja Kaaristo (Manchester Metropolitan University) Francesco Visentin (University of Udine)

Paper short abstract:

The inland waters in the UK and Italy, once important transport links, are now places for dwelling, work, everyday life, tourism and leisure. Their meanings have formed through changing usage, embodied experiences and various narratives, resulting in waterscapes as hybrid spaces of engagement.

Paper long abstract:

Fresh water is vital to the life on Earth, appearing in various shapes and forms from rivers and lakes to canals and reservoirs to water-bearings and glaciers. Water can evoke a vast range of emotions from joy and awe to fear and fright and humans engage with it in numerous ways, be it sensorial and bodily or in terms of meaning making and interpretation. The inland waters are places of scientific exploration, geopolitical territorialisation, romantic imagination and neoliberal exploitation as well as of everyday life, dwelling, work, tourism and leisure. In this presentation, we will re-imagine the waterscapes in terms of Gibson's affordance theory, renegotiating the dualism between nature as a universal given and society and culture as constructed through meanings. Positioning our research at the nexus of socio-cultural and natural, we focus on the hybridity of the land-water-scape, which comes to being through affect, materialities, narratives and mobilities. We will ask whether thinking about watery affordances could offer a way forward for a better understanding of water as a central materiality that carries us while we carry it with us both in our bodies and minds, so that we as humans are always already ecological beings. Based on our ethnographic fieldwork on the rivers and canals in the United Kingdom and Italy, we discuss whether the idea of affordances could offer a way forward in understanding waterscapes as spaces of entanglement and hybrid networks of relations between the human and non-human.

Panel Env01
Landscape - the instructions manual: negotiating the meanings of landscape [SIEF Working Group Space-lore and Place-lore]
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 April, 2019, -