My argument is that leisure in Blue Spaces involves negotiating and adjusting to how pollution is ecological – locally and globally. Pollution is not simply an outcome of leisure but formative of it. Pollution is not simply an object but an active agent. Blue space leisure involves thinking, feeling, adapting, and acting with the rhythms, flows, surges, throbbing, and aesthetics of pollution. And this pollution is not going away any time soon. My curiosity proceeds through a reflexive engagement with a feminist ‘vital materialism’ (in debt to Indigenous articulations and intellectual labour) paradigm that amplifies the liveliness of materialities and the significance of relational becomings. My research extends into considering how, quite literally, toxic masculinity is being reproduced through polluted leisure and shadow places in the Anthropocene, yet is also challenged as men come to terms with new polluted ‘naturecultures’. The work is orientated through ethnographic storytelling, as well as experimental collaborative multi-media pieces – soundscapes, film, photographs, installations, oral histories.
My study sites to-date have been shadow places. For instance, South Gare in the UK. This is a Blue Spaces site of ‘ruination’ that despite being in one of the most ‘wealthy’ nations in the world has borne the brunt of deindustrialisation, austerity, and attendant social and material pollution. It is deemed a ‘contaminated community’ by outsiders and marginalised, even though it remains one of the busiest ports in Europe (whereby capital is held elsewhere) and its returning wildlife (due to deindustrialisation) uses the space as a key migratory stopover despite ongoing pressures. Shadow Places can be at the heart of the ‘Empire’. I engage with other sites that are bearing the brunt of industrial pollution as it manifests in and as leisure that connects them with ‘elsewhere’.
I am particularly interested in exploring how Shadow Places can be and are so-called 'Blue' Spaces. My particular goal is to begin to address the question: how can we better understand and respond to assemblages of pollution and leisure in Blue Spaces that are Shadow Places (oceans, seas, lakes, rivers)? Shadow Places are not simply terrestial.