Floating Life 3 ~ Buoyancy

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Cultural Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, West
Organizers: David Bissell, Elizabeth Straughan
Chairs: Elizabeth Straughan


To move lightly and gracefully; to move or hover before the eyes or in the mind; to pass from one person to another; to be free from attachment or involvement; to move or drift about. This session explores the myriad valencies of floating from a range of diverse conceptual geographical perspectives.

First, floating might be conceived as a mode of dwelling. The inspiration for our title, Floating Life, is an Australian film (Clara Law, 1996) which explores the experience of diaspora, migration and homemaking as ‘floating’. Floating could therefore be a way of thinking about how places are occupied in a transitory manner, such as for mobile workers whose work takes them away from home for days or weeks at a time (Gorman-Murray and Bissell, 2018). Relatedly, it could refer to the so-called liudong renkouor ‘floating population’ in China caused by massive rural-urban migration (Crang and Zhang, 2012). Pushed further, it could inspire an ontology that is more adequate to thinking about place, territory and time (Steinberg and Peters, 2015). ~

Second, floating might be approached of as a set of affecting embodied experiences. Floating might be aspirational, in relation to experiences of weariness, for instance, where Wilkinson and Ortega-Alcazar (2018) ask ‘what might it mean to no longer tread water but to simply float?’ It might be conceived as a therapeutic experience engendered through specific skilled bodily practices (Philo, Cadman and Lea, 2015). Yet it might refer to something more insidiously listless, more closely associated with experiences of stasis, waiting and passivity (Bissell, 2010). Psychoanalytically, ‘free-floating’, on the other hand, might refer to a diffuse emotional state that does not appear to be associated with any specific cause. ~

Third, floating might be approached from more material, elemental and pragmatic perspectives. For instance, it might refer to different kinds of urban imaginaries, such as constructions that float above the ground (Pinder, 2010). It might zoom in on plastic, waste and toxins that move with water, or balloons in the air, moved by currents and winds (McCormack, 2018). It might invite reflection on experimental fieldwork practices that involve more gentle modes of attuning to our objects of analysis (Engelmann, 2015). Or it might relate to conceiving metaphors that enable humans and non-humans to be buoyant or hover amidst environments that facilitate a simultaneously horizontal and vertical entanglement (Straughan, 2012). ~


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Sasha Engelmann*, Royal Holloway University, Floating Elements, Floating Bodies 20 4:30 PM
Presenter Chan Arun-Pina*, York University, ‘A Million Skies, Whose Ground?’: ReDrawing the Floating Landscape of Rental Housing and Tracing the (non-)Normative Urban Crisis of Bangalore, India 20 4:50 PM
Presenter Sneha Annavarapu*, , "It is gliding, like a bird": of aspirations and inspirations on the Hyderabad metro 20 5:10 PM
Presenter Daryl Martin*, University of York, An evanescent urbanism: Mark Cousins, film-maker of the floating world 20 5:30 PM
Presenter Peter Adey*, Royal Holloway, University of London, A theory of levitation 20 5:50 PM

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