Water Lore : Practice, Place and Poetics book cover
1st Edition

Water Lore
Practice, Place and Poetics

ISBN 9781032110660
Published May 20, 2022 by Routledge
284 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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’

Jill Jones

Introduction: Flux and Change

Claudia Egerer and Camille Roulière



Water Stories


1. Sapphire stories: Disenchantment and sense of wonder in the underwater world

Karin Dirke

2. Imaginings of water: Anthropocene waters and the entanglement of the living

Claudia Egerer  

3. The blue anthropocene and the oceanic south: Reading containerisation and inundation diffractively

Meg Samuelson

4. Poetic economies of Walden: Keeping current(cy)

Diane P Freedman

5. Salt, water and sound: Translations from the Murray Mouth

Camille Roulière

6. The wild edge: A language for coastal landscapes

Nicole Larkin


Part II

Water law and lore


7. The WaterLore project: Mapping the sacred in cultural waters

Gini Lee

8. Te Mana o te Wai: Relating to and through the charisma of water

Dan Hikuroa and Billie Lythberg

9. Divining

Stephen Muecke

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


Part III

(Re)imagining waters


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

Deborah Wardle

15. New perspectives on water significance: Joining art and science to communicate water ecology

Anastasia Tyurina

16. I am phytoplankton

Kassandra Bossell


Afterword: ‘if we stand…’

Em König

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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.