Thinking the gap with the mangroves of Sydney
Thinking the gap with the mangroves of Sydney
|Journal or Proceedings Title||Symposium Abstracts: Emergent Landscapes: Exploring Social-Ecological Interdisciplinarity|
|Number of Pages||3|
|Place of Publication||Melbourne, Australia|
|Conference/Event||Emergent Landscapes Symposium: Exploring Social-Ecological Interdisciplinarity (2018)|
Emergent Landscapes Symposium: Exploring Social-Ecological Interdisciplinarity (2018)
08 Feb 2018
A landscape is framed but not singular, inviting discovery of numerous paths for the eye or foot or mind to travel. Landscape thus enables our thinking or perceptual work, a virtual laboratory for a theorist, delimiting but permitting rambling along multiple paths using multiple modes of travel. Landscapes are abundant as we frame and wander, reframe and wander across our academic work and worlds. My case study landscape layers mangrove communities, philosophical theories of intersticiality, difference, becoming and emergence, and the history, happenings and culture of the city of Sydney.
Mangrove and human sociabilities have tended to not to include each other. Generous to the extreme towards so many other beings that crawl or fly or swim or burrow, mangroves did not welcome humans easily into their worlds. In turn, the human society of Sydney had many reasons for excluding mangroves from their emerging imagined city landscape. Not the least was the stink, but other considerations were mosquitos, river access, mud, and navigability. As world makers, mangroves and human are both reshaping the same sites, but to very different desired ends. City mangroves actively compete with humans for waterfront real estate, and in Sydney at least, the battle is ongoing and complex. As well as competition, there is compromise and co-adaption occurring between mangroves and humans along these valuable waterfront edges.
In some Sydney societies, among the Cooks River fishers community, for example, who catch and throw back because the fish are too toxic to eat, both mangrove communities and humans are participants. In recent decades, educational resources and reserves with mangrove walkways have been established and many Sydney residents have grown fond of the mangroves, to the extent that recent designs for new embankments include spaces for mangroves where they can grow but not spread. Humans are compromising to allow mangroves into their plans and aesthetic values, just as mangroves are compromising to work around the human, incorporating toxins, garbage and increased sedimentation into their enterprise. Mangroves now are becoming increasingly important to human security globally as mounting evidence suggests they offer coastal protection from storm damage. There are mangrove planting projects in many coastal locations where cyclones are becoming fiercer, and where rising sea levels are becoming a more threatening consideration. Mangroves and humans are, in their own ways, imagining the same spaces, and they can, at times and in places, accommodate each other, attend to each other, or as Michel Serres might put it, to parasite each other in ways that permit continued emergence.
My question, at least as it begins, is theoretical one. I am entering this landscape to discover more about gaps, about what it is to not yet be, about the qualities, powers, shape and time of that gappiness. I need a case study from the temporal and physical world and I need case studies from the theoretical world. Serres, Derrida, Deleuze, Haraway, Connolly, Tsing, Massumi, Stengers, Whitehead and Barad, thinkers with an interest in what gaps are, and what happens in them, have opened pathways and I am wandering them. Each brings their own language, viewpoint, speed and frame. Theory and the urban mangrove emerge as one landscape, then another then another, as I frame and wander, reframe and wander in thought and writing. As so many have noted, writing enables worlds to unfold. It journeys me across this multiply layered landscape full of shimmer. My practice moves me between mangroves, stories of the city, theories of traces, gaps, edges, betweens, aporias, differences and chiasmas, my writing a journey across this landscape.
|Keywords||interstices, mangrove, agency|
|ANZSRC Field of Research 2020||500304. Environmental philosophy|
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|Byline Affiliations||University of Southern Queensland|
|Institution of Origin||University of Southern Queensland|
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