"Natural", intimate and sensory landscapes



Publication Details

Waitt , G. (2017). "Natural", intimate and sensory landscapes. In M. L. Silk, D. L. Andrews & H. Thorpe (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Physical Cultural Studies (pp. 323-332). Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.


In recent years conversations in cultural geography about nature and landscape are enlivened by incorporating the body and issues of embodiment. The shift towards the body as an approach and the instigation of examining physical culture - including walking, swimming, running, diving, cycling - in cultural geography is part of a wider corpus of research that critiques dominant, apolitical ways of thinking about nature found within science as objective, external to people and inanimate. Rethinking key geographical concepts of nature and landscape through the body is a project that resonates with physical cultural studies as an interdisciplinary project focussed on critical forms of enquiry on how bodies are (im)mobilized. This chapter argues that a prerequisite for recognizing the bodily experience has to begin with a theorization of space as an integral part of bodily experience. In this regard it may be useful for physical cultural studies to embrace current re-workings of nature within the philosophy of geography figured as post-, or critical phenomenologies. When conceptualized in terms of cultures of natures, the bodily experience of nature is simultaneously one which is in part shaped not only be the ideas but also by the technologies, equipment, animals, plants, soil and climate. In turn, these various material things provide affordances by which we come to know the self and world in particular ways. Embodied actions (including touching, listening, looking and tasting) of physical cultural activities (including walking, running, surfing, sunbathing) are practices which draw on such affordances in the processes of sensing and making sense of self- world relationships. This chapter outlines the implications of bringing questions about what bodies do as the starting point of enquiry about nature, intimacy and landscape. The basic argument is that nature is never pre-existing nor singular but instead always embodied, emplaced, represented, disciplined, experienced and multiple. The chapter explores some of the implications of studying nature when conceived as a spatially situated embodied process under two themes: 1 2 Doing 'natures' : animating landscapes. Responsibility : situating the experience of nature. To conclude, the chapter outlines how a physical cultural approach demands writing knowledge of nature and natural landscape as always unfolding, and fosters our attention on the importance of the politics of affect and emotion.

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