by Cormac Walsh
In ‘The Frayed Atlantic Edge’ (William Collins, July 2019) historian and experienced sea-kayaker David Gange recounts his journey along the Atlantic coasts of Britain and Ireland, from Shetland to the Channel. In travelling by kayak, Gange immersed himself in the rhythms of the sea and coast and sought to gain new perspectives on the history and geographies of Britain and Ireland, from the perspective of the sea. Drawing on archival and literary sources, he weaves together an account of these Atlantic coasts which challenges head-on dominant narratives of the peripherality and marginality of coastal and island places. He begins with the conviction that British and Irish histories ‘are usually written inside out’, based on the false premise that the ‘land-bound geographies’ of today have existed forever (p. ix).
Image source: https://frayedatlanticedge.wordpress.com.
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by Cormac Walsh
The fiftieth anniversary Conference of Irish Geographers, took place at Maynooth University, (close to Dublin, in County Kildare) from 10-12thMay 2018. In response to a call for papers for a themed session with the title: Between Nature and Culture, Land and Sea: Spatial Practices at the Coast, Ruth Brennan (Centre for Environmental Humanities, Trinity College Dublin) and I convened a double session with eight paperspresented to a lively audience on the last day of the conference. We were particularly interested in papers which viewed coasts and coastlines as boundary spaces and explored ways in which natural and cultural values are contested and negotiated at the coast. With this thematic focus, the session built on recent work on cultural geographies of coastal change (e.g. Walsh & Döring 2018) and was informed by a broader concern to bring together perspectives from cultural geography and the environmental humanities.
The first paper, by Frances Rylands and colleagues from the interdisciplinary Cultural Values of Coastlines project at University College Dublin explored the concept of emotional ecologies as a means of incorporating cultural values in policy-making at the coast. Her paper addressed the question of how nature-culture relations can be narrated at the coast, working with through practices of story-telling and story-mapping. Drawing on the Lorimer’s Wildlife in the Anthropocene (2015), she spoke of the non-human charisma of seals and their role as digital personalities in the communication of particular images of nature at the coast. Her paper highlighted the importance of developing and articulating an ethic of care in relation to the marine environment and the potential role of story-telling in articulating otherwise intangible and difficult to grasp emotional responses and cultural values.
A charismatic seal, Glengarriff Bay, Ireland. Photo: (c) C. Walsh
Continue reading “Between Nature and Culture, Land and Sea: Spatial Practices at the Coast: A Conference Report”