Here’s a super-interesting post from anthropology blog site anthrodendum, which reminds us that the place we run to for a breath of ‘nature’ is profoundly cultural and a site of struggle over competing visions of what a coast or beach ought to be.
Do take a look at the longer article, but here’s a quote:
“Oceanside’s beaches, like many beaches around the world, are not simply pristine, untouched natural spaces. They are the results of human interventions that led to cascading effects: The dams and harbors severely reduced the sand supply of downcoast beaches (Kuhn and Shepard 1984), resulting in coastal erosion and shorter beaches over time”. (Ryan Anderson writing in anthrodendum. Tweets @anthropologia
As a social anthropologist trained in the 1980s, I’ve tended to take a sociological view of the coast, and be concerned with human populations there. I’ve tended to take the question of ‘whose beach, which nature?’ and consider it in relation to race-ethnicity, class, sex-gender, and other flows of power which offer humans differential kinds of privilege and exclusion, ease or anwkwardness. My career was shaped by an interest in human belongings. Thankfully, the new generation of social anthropologists understand that we need to take the big picture on the anthropocene, and to work with more inclusive frames. Environmental anthropology, non humanistic anthropology, and anthropology of human and non-human interactions have all been embedded into our discipline since the 1990s. We’re better for it.