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News Call for papers for the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) 2008 Annual Conference, London, August

To say that water is crucial to life is axiomatic. However, in spite of this significance, water has, with a few notable exceptions, been largely neglected by human geographers. It pervades our daily life and manifests itself in a variety of spaces and forms, and is used in a multitude of ways, but water’s mattering is not limited to its status as a crucial resource. It affects and is affected by people, shaping spaces, defining ecologies and provoking emotions: the excitement and fear caused by floods, the relaxing sound of a garden water feature, the desirability of a waterfront office location, and the irritation of a dripping tap. Water is instrumental in forming understandings of identity, space and place (Strang, 2004) and becomes imbued with different meanings in different social and cultural scenarios. Water connects: it flows across divides between urban and rural, nature and culture, public and private, self and other, and through concepts of modernity (see, for example, Gandy, 2002 & 2004; Swyngedouw, 2004; Kaika, 2005: Braun, 2005). Water’s fluid form links different places, and offers a connection between different issues, scales and methodological approaches. It may also be perceived as a barrier between different places and between ‘ways of embodied being’
(Jones, 2000); its ‘alien nature’ creates challenges, both for management and governance, and for developing understandings of the life forms it contains.

This session will draw together emerging research on water to examine the affective and material geographies of water and investigate the particular knowledges and spaces associated with it. In so doing, the session will offer a new direction to the ‘geographies of water’ as more than a resource. We welcome contributions from first and third world, urban and rural contexts, from human and physical geographers, other disciplines and from practitioners beyond the academy. Possible topics for papers could

•       The role of water in shaping understandings of space, place and identity
•       Water and the body
•       The fluidity of water
•       Understandings, subjectivities and materialities of aquatic life
•       Water as an agent/actant
•       Affective waterscapes
•       Gendered spaces of water  
•       The absence of water: abstraction, drought and access in (re) defining spaces

Early enquiries and expressions of interest would be welcome. Titles and abstracts should be sent to either Chris Bear ( or Jacob Bull ( by 14th January 2007

Contact information Chris Bear ; Jacob Bull (email: ;
News type CallForPaper
File link
Source of information The interdisciplinary forum on water resources
Keyword(s) floods
Geographical coverage United Kingdom
News date 07/12/2007
Working language(s) ENGLISH