I will convene a session with Dr. Ruth Brennan (Environmental Humanities, Trinity College Dublin) at the 2018 Conference of Irish Geographers, Maynooth, Ireland (1012 May). The session hopes to bring together human geography and environmental humanities perspectives on the coast.
Session title: Between Nature and Culture, Land and Sea: Spatial Practices at the Coast
Coastal land- and seascapes constitute liminal boundary spaces between the land and the sea: they occupy partially solidified zones of fluid transition, at times characterised by extreme and powerful dynamics. Despite a long history of fixing coastlines on maps and charts and the profound changes wrought by material practices of coastal engineering, the boundary between the land and the sea defies precise measurement and is characterised by rhythms of change across multiple and interchanging time-scales. In recent decades, practices of nature conservation have led to a re-appraisal of many coastal areas as natural spaces of eco-systemic value accompanied by a new layer of institutional, regulatory and governance spaces, producing new boundaries and lines of separation. An analytical understanding of coastal places requires an appreciation of the powerful material presence of the land and the sea, and their influence on daily rhythms, local weather patterns and human spatial practices. Coastal places, moreover, embody historical narratives of struggle against the sea, histories of the loss of land and it’s retaking or re-conquering through material practices of diking and land reclamation. In the context of a changing, coastlines one more become liminal spaces of uncertain future where nature-culture relations and their spatial manifestations are once more contested, struggled over and renegotiated.
This session is seeking papers that explore the historical, contemporary and/or future construction coasts as boundary spaces: Papers might address, but are not limited to:
- Shifting values of nature and culture at the coast
- Practices of coastal management and/or nature conservation and their spatial implications
- Expert and lay / official and alternative constructions of space and place, nature and culture at the coast
- Processes of contestation and/or negotiation whereby nature-culture relations at the coast are transformed or reconfigured.