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Emma Morgan-Thorp is a settler feminist PhD candidate living on Tla’amin territory. Her doctoral research in performance studies explores sensory, embodied, and artistic practices for parsing, deepening, complicating, and perhaps decolonizing settler relationships with the territories we inhabit, looking specifically at extractivism and ecotourism on the Sunshine Coast.


This talk was given as part of the

qathet Cultural Adaptation Radical Reimagining

on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Talk description:

In this brief talk, I share some of my doctoral research on watery methodologies.

I ask:

  • What might it look like to learn from (bodies of) water?

  • How can deepening my relationship with water help me learn how to live more ethically on someone else’s territory?

  • How can watery methodologies reorient me away from settler colonial systems of knowledge and extractive relations with the world around me?  

To address these questions, I turn to the work of several scholars who have developed watery methodologies in their own work. I will discuss Dorothy Christian and Rita Wong’s “Untapping Watershed Mind,” Zoe Todd’s work on human-fish relationships, Melody Jue’s use of diving as methodology, Macarena Gomez-Barris’s concepts of the ‘fish eye episteme’ and ‘submerged perspective,’ and Elspeth Probyn’s suggestion seasickness be taken to mean a “moment of fundamental queasiness in the world” where we understand that we are entangled in “swaying human and nonhuman nets of materiality and meaning” (Eating the Ocean, 42). All these thinkers are proposing ways of being in relation to the world which destabilize a more anthropocentric, authoritative, extractive, and colonizing positionality, and they all begin by taking cues from water.

Hopefully, during this Symposium, we will be able to approach the water together and experiment with some embodied and sensorial aspects of these watery methodologies.

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Chen, Cecilia, Janine MacLeod, and Astrida Neimanis, eds. Thinking with water. McGill-Queen's Press-MQUP, 2013

Gómez-Barris, Macarena. “Submerged Perspectives.” The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives.

     Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. 

Jue, Melody. Wild Blue Media. Duke University Press, 2020

Probyn, Elspeth. Eating The Ocean. Duke University Press, 2016.

Todd, Zoe. "Fish pluralities: Human-animal relations and sites of engagement in Paulatuuq, Arctic Canada." Études/Inuit/Studies 38.1-2 (2014): 217-238

Todd, Zoe. "From fish lives to fish law: Learning to see Indigenous legal orders in Canada." Somatosphere. (2016)

Wong, Rita. undercurrent. Harbour Publishing, 2015

Wong, Rita & Fred Wah. Beholden: a poem as long as the river. Talonbooks, 2019.