Located within the field of environmental humanities, this volume engages with one of the most pressing contemporary environmental challenges of our time: how can we shift our understanding and realign what water means to us? Water is increasingly at the centre of scientific and public debates about climate change. In these debates, rising sea levels compete against desertification; hurricanes and floods follow periods of prolonged drought. As we continue to pollute, canalise and desalinate waters, the ambiguous nature of our relationship with these entities becomes visible. From the paradisiac and pristine scenery of holiday postcards through to the devastated landscapes of post-tsunami news reports, images of waters surround us. And while we continue to damage what most sustains us, collective precarity grows.
Breaking down disciplinary boundaries, with contributions from scholars in the visual arts, history, earth systems, anthropology, architecture, literature and creative writing, archaeology and music, this edited collection creates space for less-prominent perspectives, with many authors coming from female, Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ contexts. Combining established and emerging voices, and practice-led research and critical scholarship, the book explores water across its scientific, symbolic, material, imaginary, practical and aesthetic dimensions. It examines and interrogates our cultural construction and representation of water and, through original research and theory, suggests ways in which we can reframe the dialogue to create a better relationship with water sources in diverse contexts and geographies.
This expansive book brings together key emerging scholarship on water persona and agency and would be an ideal supplementary text for discussions on the blue humanities, climate change, environmental anthropology and environmental history.
Table of Contents
Foreword: ‘Salt Water Kin’
Introduction: Flux and Change
Claudia Egerer and Camille Roulière
1. Sapphire stories: Disenchantment and sense of wonder in the underwater world
2. Imaginings of water: Anthropocene waters and the entanglement of the living
3. The blue anthropocene and the oceanic south: Reading containerisation and inundation diffractively
4. Poetic economies of Walden: Keeping current(cy)
Diane P Freedman
5. Salt, water and sound: Translations from the Murray Mouth
6. The wild edge: A language for coastal landscapes
Water law and lore
7. The WaterLore project: Mapping the sacred in cultural waters
8. Te Mana o te Wai: Relating to and through the charisma of water
Dan Hikuroa and Billie Lythberg
10. Water remembers: Drowning colonialism and swimming in wealth
Brandy Nālani McDougall
11. The weight of river stones
Ali Gumillya Baker, Faye Rosas Blanch and Simone Ulalka Tur
12. Call-and-response writing on water
Louise Boscacci and Pip Newling
13. Fresh water, salt water: Socially engaged art, collaboration and the environment
Kim Williams and Lucas Ihlein
14. Storied matter
15. New perspectives on water significance: Joining art and science to communicate water ecology
16. I am phytoplankton
Afterword: ‘if we stand…’
Camille Roulière is an early-career researcher and creative writer whose work focuses on spatial poetics. She was recently awarded a University Doctoral Research Medal for her PhD thesis entitled "Visions of Water in Lower Murray Country" (The University of Adelaide).
Claudia Egerer is Associate Professor of Literature and Environmental Humanities in the Department of English at Stockholm University, Sweden. Both her research and teaching engage in rethinking the place of the human and the humanities in the Anthropocene. She is co-founder of the Environmental Humanities Network at Stockholm University and the research school in the Environmental Humanities at Stockholm University.