River readings: the environmental knowledge-practices of angling

Christopher Bear, Sally Eden

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Abstract

This paper is about the ways in which anglers read rivers as landscapes, as contexts and as places in which they develop their own knowledge-practices and also coproduce water environments. Drawing on semi-structured interviews and participant observation conducted with anglers who fish on the Rivers Swale, Ure and Esk in northern England between 2006-2008, it considers how supposedly ‘lay’ people develop skills of environmental interpretation, mental mapping and modelling, visual and nonvisual sensing and sense-making through being part of a rapidly changing and diverse environment. Through this, it emphasises that humans and nonhumans are intimately and relationally connected through their everyday, even mundane, environmental knowledge-practices. It shows that the ways in which anglers read rivers matters. First, it demonstrates how bodies in environments coevolve in multiple sensory contexts. Second, anglers’ readings are also put to work in terms of physical environmental management and construction, as well as political environmental campaigning and tenure patterns. Third, their readings are often neglected in favour of the representation of the public as ‘lay’ – as unspecialised, often ignorant, commonly powerless and tragically disconnected from ‘nature’.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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