“Sink or Swim? A Wet Ethnography of Men Searching for Wellbeing in Polluted Blue Spaces”, Clifton Evers (University of Newcastle).
Research on geographies and cultures of pollution rarely if ever account for men’s embodied and emotional every day lived experiences of pollution. I am interested in the nitty gritty of how men live with pollution, with a particular focus at this time on how they do so through as they seek wellbeing through their leisure in post-industrial “blue spaces” – lakes, rivers, seas, quarries, canals, sewers – in the UK. Using arts-based research methods, I engage with working class men through a series of coastal walkshops and “wetshops” (in water) – what I call a “wet ethnography” – to help men critically reflect upon the entanglements of heritage, leisure, wellbeing, place, and masculinity. What I am finding to-date is that participants emphasise an emotional attachment to pollution as well as practical ongoing negotiations of pollution-informed belonging, territory, aesthetics, resignation, nostalgia, risk, and resilience. During the session I share some images and sounds from the wet ethnography to open up a discussion about doing “polluted leisure” and wellbeing.Prior to the session you could read about the piece entitled “Damage,” written by the wonderfully articulate Donna Houston. The publication is part of The Shadow Places Network concept series. See here: Damage – Donna Houston. You could also watch a short film entitled “Polluted Leisure,” by Clifton Evers and James Davoll. See here: Polluted Leisure. There is also the following short article is useful for thinking about how people seek out wellbeing through leisure in blue spaces: Why going for a swim in the ocean can be good for you, and for nature.
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