Dwelling on and with water – materialities, (im)mobilities and meanings: Introduction to the special issue

  • Benjamin O. L. Bowles
  • Maarja Kaaristo
  • Nataša Rogelja Caf
Keywords: water, canals, boating, mobilities, drought, dwelling, materialities


This special issue explores the materialities, (im)mobilities and meanings of dwelling on and with water by asking how is water experienced, narrated, and understood. Water’s physical qualities both afford mobility and create frictions, thus complicating the boundaries between moving and staying, while waterscapes are also full of political, socio-cultural, and metaphorical meanings. Dwelling on water presents a challenge to overwhelmingly sedentary states and their terra-centric logics, which compels us to further discuss water both in a phenomenological and a political manner. This special issue suggests
avenues for studying dwelling on and with water by examining various practices of being on water with their related meanings (the liveaboard boating communities on inland waterways and surfers on the sea) as well as with(out) water in terms of water scarcity, thus underlining the need for an anthropology of water.