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Channelling oceanic energy: investigating intimacy among surfers and waves along Ireland's Atlantic coast

Whyte, David; (2018) Channelling oceanic energy: investigating intimacy among surfers and waves along Ireland's Atlantic coast. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the entangled relationships of humans, waves, and the wider nonhuman environment in surfing. It is based on an ethnographic study of surfing along the Atlantic coast of Ireland, and also on how these communities are tied to a global surfing imaginary via online magazines, digital swell forecasts, and international travel. The argument at the core of this thesis is that surfing describes a collection of practices which transforms humans into channels for Oceanic energy. This becoming is both what allows the human body and technology to make lives as surfers in the littoral environment, and also produces the practical context whereby Irish terrestrial sociality is transformed into Irish surfer sociality with its own rules, hierarchies, and environmental understandings. The thesis departs from established tendencies in anthropology, geography and popular literature to theorise the coast as a liminal/peripheral space that is distinct from ‘everyday’ life and in which social norms are relaxed, transformed or perhaps even absent. Instead, I develop an alternative ecological analysis of Irish surfing using surfers’ own concepts which examines how surfing practice refigures the coast as the centre of certain human lives while at the same time blurring conceptual and physical boundary lines which separate land, littoral and ocean. By going beyond a strictly materialist approach to examine the energies which animate material relations, the ecological explanation developed herein argues that an anthropological explanation of surfing social relations benefits from a thorough understanding of the various ways that people become affectively tied to environments through practice.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Channelling oceanic energy: investigating intimacy among surfers and waves along Ireland's Atlantic coast
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Some third party copyright material has been removed from this e-thesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10059254
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