At the end of October, I attended the Great Rivers Forum 2018 in Wuhan, China, which was jointly organised by the UNESCO Beijing Office, the Changjiang Civilization Museum and the Municipal Government of Wuhan. The forum is now a biannual event, which serves as an international platform of idea exchange and knowledge sharing for inland waterways experts and managers, and this year the focus was on sustainability. The location is perfect for discussing everything watery, as Wuhan has two major rivers flowing through it: China’s longest, the Yangtze, or as it is called in Chinese, Changjiang River; as well as the Han River, which is the Yangtze’s longest tributary and after which both the Han dynasty, as well as the Han Chinese ethnic group, both take their name. This metropolis of 11 million inhabitants is also known in China as the ‘river city’; yet in addition to the rivers, there are also 166 lakes in the city, making up a quarter of its territory. One of the largest of the inner city lakes in China, the East Lake (Dong Hu), is also located there, with the ‘East Lake Greenway’ area covering 88 sq. km, functioning as both a recreational area for the locals, as well as one of the city’s tourist attractions. The Greenway itself is a good example of environmentally informed and sustainable urban planning. The linear greenway around the lake only allows for sustainable modes of mobility, such as cycling, walking, and the occasional vehicle for tour groups and those with mobility issues. The Mobikes that recently left Manchester have a strong presence both on the Greenway as well as in the city of Wuhan.
There is a network of over 4000 miles of inland waterways in the United Kingdom, consisting of a number of tidal and non-tidal rivers, canals, lakes and estuaries, some navigable for vessels of different size, some non-navigable, minor, (almost) forgotten. Of these, canals represent a fascinating result of human fluvial modification of the landscape and the creation of new, socio-natural hydro-landscapes. In this post, I will discuss how canals have been going through substantial and dynamic transformation throughout their existence, where various aspects, such as transportation, dereliction, dwelling or leisure have been in the foreground at different times. Continue reading “Studying linear, watery places: canals in the UK”→
Maarja Kaaristo is a PhD Researcher and an Associate Lecturer at the School of Tourism, Events and Hospitality Management, Manchester Metropolitan University. She is currently researching embodied experiences and everyday life of the leisure boaters on the canals of north-west England. She holds a MA in ethnology from University of Tartu, Estonia and has taught Anthropology of Tourism and Ethnographic Research Methods there. Her main research interests include mobilities, materialites and sensory experiences in (rural) tourism, ethnographic methods and history of European Ethnology. Her most recent publication deals with mundane aspects of water tourism mobilities. When not boating or writing about boating, she is volunteering for Inland Waterways Association and Canal and River Trust. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Maarja Kaaristo”→