Water places: cultural, social and more-than-human geographies of nature



Publication Details

Gibbs, L. M. (2009). Water places: cultural, social and more-than-human geographies of nature. Scottish Geographical Journal, 125 (3-4), 361-369.


Cultural, social and more-than-human approaches to nature research are largely held apart in the discipline of human geography. In this paper I argue that these three approaches can be brought together to good effect. The paper presents a situated account of 'water places' in inland Australia-namely the artesian bores, boredrains and boredrain wetlands of the Birdsville Track-in order to demonstrate that together, these three approaches can reveal the complex interactions that form particular places, and comprise a more-than-human world. This account explores the layers of interaction that have formed these water places, including their insertion into the landscape through drilling, and their various roles: in opening the country for stock; in the Australian colonial imagination as means for developing the inland and the nation; as tools for displacing Aboriginal peoples from their country; as a focus for life in the desert; as key to mining and petroleum exploration; and in local controversy. It illustrates their physical and conceptual transformation from 'bores' to 'wetlands'. The paper argues that cultural, social and more-than-human geographies are needed in order to effectively govern human relations with 'nature', and to better understand how to live in and with a more-than-human world. © 2009 Royal Scottish Geographical Society

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