The River Liffey flows through the heart of Dublin in Ireland. 17 Bridges is part of a body of research about Dublin’s relationship with its main river and in particular the swimmers who use the Liffey as their swimming pool. This essay focuses on a summer when a group of swimmers decided to jump off every bridge on the Liffey, raising questions of ownership and trespass.
This chapter explores some of the empirical questions that scholars have asked about siblings, from psychological questions pertaining to the influence of having a brother or sister on childhood development – which dominate academic studies of siblings – to the use of aspects of sibship configuration as a variable in quantitative analyses of educational and occupational outcomes, and practice-based questions about how vulnerable siblings can be supported. The chapter then moves on to a discussion of the sorts of sociological questions that have been posed about siblingship, identifying opportunities for new ways of looking both at and with siblings sociologically. Finally the chapter considers the importance of asking questions about cultural diversity and siblingship.
Understanding the place of water within social life makes us ask different questions about cities. This chapter is based on archival research, oral histories and written reminisces that have been collected over twenty years through living and working in Laurie Grove Baths in New Cross, South East London. I show the paradoxes of city life, like the unresolved tensions between regulation and resistance, through documenting the remarkable history of this grand old building and the forms of social life housed there, from wrestling matches to limbo dancing.
In 2021, I swam, walked and waded along the River Churn in the UK, just over 23 miles from its source at Seven Springs, Gloucestershire to its confluence with the Thames at Cricklade in Wiltshire. I followed the river slowly but surely, out of any order or sequence and often trespassing, picking out sections to swim-walk when cracks of time opened up in my life as a writer and mother to young children. I often headed off spontaneously and travelled light with little more than an ordnance survey map, dry bag, phone camera/voice recorder and my lovely dog, Biscuit. A native of Cirencester, the Churn is my home river – I’ve known it for over forty years, playing in and around it as a child growing up in Cirencester, watching the water voles dart through the crowsfoot, paddling and fishing for snotty dogs and minnows, shooting along it on tractor inner tubes where the flow ran high at the water meadows. What I had anticipated would be a project about movement, migration and invasion, developed into a playful poem sequence with found text marginalia that responds to my fascination with home, belonging, motherhood, ritual and a conversation with the iron age goddess of the Cotswold hills and rivers, Cuda.
The book concludes by emphasising why siblings matter sociologically, pointing to the significance of sibling relationships in people’s lives as well as highlighting how siblings can be a useful lens through which to examine key sociological themes and topics such as self, relationality, imagination and time as well as emotion. The chapter explores the idea that siblings affect how we ‘turn out’ in life and reflects upon the significance of power and diversity in shaping siblingship. Methods of studying siblingship, from the perspective of individuals as well as with sibling groups as the unit of analysis, are evaluated and a call is made for sociology to pay more attention to siblings.
In 2021 I was artist in residence with the Vincent van Gogh House Museum in Brabant, The Netherlands. During my residency I walked and swam, exploring and plotting the landscape. This essay describes my discoveries, both evidential and poetic, through text and image making, in black ink and analogue photography, with reference to bodies of water and their historical narratives. Reliving and documenting the ritual of plunging water in now stagnant waters, connections are transcribed across time and questions arise as to the power of water as a source of inspiration and revelation.
This chapter is a poetic ethnography, weaving words first spoken in the Old English language, fereð ofer flodas, lost in translation; alongside personal reflections hastily written whilst floating on a ferry, layered atop words recorded and spoken by passengers as part of a larger body of research. Such playfulness of language is brought together to describe the sensory and embodied act of crossing a river, on a ferry, and to encapsulate what it means to float on water. Floating exchanges and reflections give attention to the meeting point of the ferry, where people and things, ideas and imaginations are held together for a few minutes in the crossing from one side of the river to the other. Ferry: thing and an action, double crossed strand intertwined as ferry means floating, and floating shifts us towards water.
This essay considers place-based artistic investigations of the urban drainage of the regional city of Albany/Kinjarling in Western Australia. It presents a series of paired black and white photographs that capture some of the contradictions encountered in a long-term investigation of the geo-bio-socio-cultural network of water that begins with rain falling and moving along drains, through living places, to the Southern Ocean. The Follow the water project was conceived around the concept of porous repair as a way to maintain a contingent – yet effective – position as a human in a more-than-human world.
Using the metaphor of a glacial erratic, this essay explores migration and the entanglement of human history and glacial history across deep geologic time. Through examining the traces glaciers and humans leave behind as they move, the line between humans and glaciers blur. Glaciers are migrants and humans are metaphorical glacial erratics strewn across landscapes and icescapes that shape and are shaped by both glaciers and humans. While tracing the flow of glacial ghosts – from Michigan to Alaska to the Sonoran Desert, Antarctica, and finally the winter home of monarch butterflies in Mexico’s mountains – I discover and honour my family’s Mexican roots and heritage as migrant farmworkers.
Boat dwellers’ pursuit of living with water, at its most fundamental, is to float on it, ensuring the stability and most basic liveability of their homes. Whilst their relationship with the water represents a precariousness, it also provides a playful and joyful way of living differently in the city, disrupting the foundations of dwelling and weaving water into the meaning, practices and embodiment of home. This chapter explores how water, both literally and figuratively, seeps into and shapes boat dwellers' experience of everyday life, considering its role as a joy and a threat, a substance that offers both support and conflict. Viewing water as it is framed through boaters' homes draws out its capacity to inform practices of home-making and sustaining, whilst exploring its potential to both enable and constrain domestic life.