Blue spaces – seas, oceans, lakes, rivers, etc. – connect to the processes of gender, as well as class, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, disability, nationality, and more. Pollution also connects, resulting in varying and different ecological realities. This image draws attention to gender, specifically through men and masculinity. There is longstanding relationship between men and polluting industries. For instance, male dominated fossil fuel industries have shaped patriarchal social arrangements, nation-states, power, and male identities e.g. a ‘petro-chemical masculinity’ (Daggett, 2018). In the north-east post-industrial region of England there are now many displaced men re-evaluating masculinity and their relationships to the world as fossil fuel industries have declined (Nayak, 2006). While the toxic petro-chemical industry can celebrate ‘manly men’ and a ‘toxic masculinity’ they can also result in many men becoming vulnerable and fragile due to a history of embodying pollution and having to shift their practices/understanding of masculinity e.g. because of unemployment, illness and injury. Some men turn to negotiating past, present, and future toxicities through their leisure. However, we still know little about relationship between men qua men, their recreation, and pollution. This image provides an initial entry point into discussing how men use their blue space leisure to work through a masculine sense of ‘resilience’ entangled with pollution – a mixture of nostalgia, anxiety, mental distress, joy, anger, shame, precariousness, and anxiety. A prominent discourse now holds that human encounters with blue spaces results in positive social and personal health and well-being transformations. However, pollution interrupts such correlations.
Photograph by Clifton Evers and James Davoll.
Anonymous, "Polluted Romance", contributed by Clifton Evers and James Davoll, Center for Ethnography, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 6 March 2020, accessed 18 January 2022.