Liquid passions: bodies, publics and city waters

Watson, Sophie (2019). Liquid passions: bodies, publics and city waters. Social & Cultural Geography, 20(7) pp. 960–980.



This article explores water’s capacities as a vibrant matter with specific properties that generates passions, attachments and a sense of belonging, and which enrols bodies in new connections, socialities, alliances and politics in unpredictable ways. Based on research into practices and engagements with water in a large urban public space the paper builds on studies of blue space. It concludes that water has the capacity to enhance a sense of well-being in those that swim in it and to mobilise a very particular sense of embodiment which gives this form of public space its distinctiveness constituting new forms of sociality and connections amongst diverse individuals. It seeks to do this by paying attention to the experiences of things themselves and the active participation of nonhuman forces in events and the ‘vital materiality’ that runs through and across bodies both human and non-human. The article also explores water’s capacity to be constituted and defined by experts as dangerous and risky matter, and to thus engender political associations and connections amongst diverse groups who seek to oppose such expert interventions.

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