Geographies of the Drowned

Authors: Elaine Stratford*, University of Tasmania
Topics: Political Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Cultural Geography
Keywords: drowning; spatial thinking; intersectionality; governmentality; embodiment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Truman, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper is a prelude to a new project on the geographies of the drowned. My aim in that larger endeavour is to ask how and to what effects drowning is implicated in (a) spatial ideas—scales, boundaries and flows, or surfaces and depths; (b) intersectional dynamics—gender, race, class, or age; and (c) forms of bio- and geopolitical power—bodies, territories, or resources. In the paper, I will reflect on a small number of historical and contemporary examples of such geographies by reference to, for example, water bodies—mermaids and sirens, for instance; bodies of water—oceans, rivers, swimming pools, puddles; and bodies in water—sailors, ‘scolds’, convicts, slaves, asylum seekers. Here, Swann-Quinn and Sammler’s call for papers provides an enticing opportunity to examine one element of that larger project, and consider the geographies of the drowned in relation to the “specific territories and spaces [that comprise] … the benthic world located at the bottom of the sea”. Ultimately, the significance of these reflections lies in adding substance to Tugba Basaran’s observation from 2015 that the “decision as to who should be saved or permitted to drown is the … exercise in governing human conduct, in producing collective indifference to human suffering and human lives”.

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