Blue Space, Health and Wellbeing: Hydrophilia Unbounded, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Blue Space, Health and Wellbeing

Hydrophilia Unbounded, 1st Edition

Edited by Ronan Foley, Robin Kearns, Thomas Kistemann, Ben Wheeler


242 pages | 19 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-02-12
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Health geography makes critical contributions to contemporary and emerging interdisciplinary agendas of nature-based health and health-enabling places. Couched in theory and critical empirical work on nature and health, this book addresses questions on the relationships between water, health and wellbeing. Water and blue space is a key focus in current health geography research and a new hydrophilic turn has emerged with a particular focus on the aspects of water which are affective, life-enhancing and health-enabling. Research considers the benefits and risks associated with blue space, from access to safe and clean water in the Global South, to health promoting spaces found around urban waters, to the deeper implications of climate change for water-based livelihoods and indigenous cultures. This book reflects recent theoretical debates within health geography, drawing from research in the public health, anthropology and psychology sectors. Broad thematic sections focus on interdisciplinary, experiential and equity-based elements of blue space, with individual chapters that consider indigenous and global health, water’s healing properties, leisure and blue yogic culture, coastal landscapes, surfing, swimming and sailing, along with more contested hydrophobic dimensions.

The interdisciplinary lens means this book will be extremely valuable to human geographers and cultural geographers. It will also appeal to practitioners and researchers interested in environmental health, leisure and tourism, health inequalities and public health more broadly.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

(Ronan Foley, Robin Kearns, Thomas Kistemann and Ben Wheeler )

PART I Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Water & Health

2. The Meaning of Water to Health: antipodean perspectives on the ‘substance of life’

(Veronica Strang)

3. Keeping Leisure in mind: The intervening role of Leisure in the Blue Space - Health nexus

(Sean Gammon and David Jarratt

4.Sailing, health and well-being: a thalassographic perspective.

(Mike Brown)

5. To the waters and the wild: reflections on eco-social healing in the WILD project

(Katherine Phillips and Antony Lyons)

PART II Experiencing Health in Blue Space

6. From water as curative agent to enabling waterscapes: Diverse experiences of the ‘therapeutic blue’

(Karolina Doughty)

7. Dúchas: Being and belonging on the borderlands of surfing, senses and self

(Easkey Britton)

8. Blue Yogic Culture: A Case Study of Sirvananda Yoga Retreat, Paradise Island, Nassau,


(Alison Williams, Ashleigh Patterson and Morgan Parnell)

9. No ducking, no diving, no running, no pushing. Hydrophobia and urban bluespaces across the life-course.

(Hannah Pitt)

PART III Blue health inequality and environmental justice

10. The shadows of risk and inequality within salutogenic coastal waters

(Sarah Bell, Rebecca Lovell, Julie Hollenbeck, Mat White and Mike Depledge)

11. Thirst World? Linking Water and Health in the Context of Development

(Carmen Anthonj and Timo Falkenberg)

12. Wellbeing and the Wild, Blue 21st Century Citizen

(Sarah Atkinson)

13. Environmental uncertainty and muddy blue spaces: health, history, and wetland geographies in Aotearoa New Zealand

(Meg Parsons)

14. Conclusion: New Directions

(Ronan Foley, Robin Kearns, Thomas Kistemann and Ben Wheeler)


About the Editors

Ronan Foley is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography at Maynooth University, Ireland.

Robin Kearns is a Professor of Geography in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Thomas Kistemann is Professor of Hygiene, Environmental Medicine and Medical Geography at the University of Bonn, Germany.

Ben Wheeler is Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School, UK.

About the Series

Geographies of Health Series

Geographies of Health Series
There is growing interest in the geographies of health and a continued interest in what has more traditionally been labeled medical geography. The traditional focus of ’medical geography’ on areas such as disease ecology, health service provision and disease mapping (all of which continue to reflect a mainly quantitative approach to inquiry) has evolved to a focus on a broader, theoretically informed epistemology of health geographies in an expanded international reach. As a result, we now find this subdiscipline characterized by a strongly theoretically-informed research agenda, embracing a range of methods (quantitative; qualitative and the integration of the two) of inquiry concerned with questions of: risk; representation and meaning; inequality and power; culture and difference, among others. Health mapping and modeling, has simultaneously been strengthened by the technical advances made in multilevel modeling, advanced spatial analytic methods and GIS, while further engaging in questions related to health inequalities, population health and environmental degradation. This series publishes superior quality research monographs and edited collections representing contemporary applications in the field; this encompasses original research as well as advances in methods, techniques and theories. The Geographies of Health series will capture the interest of a broad body of scholars, within the social sciences, the health sciences and beyond.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography