Ocean plastics have become pervasive in imagery promoting environmental activism. Single use plastics are a particularly successful target for individual change. Bans on plastic bags and straws are now common in many countries, and there is growing awareness of microplastics pollution from our clothing, swimmers and sports equipment. Women are making even more intimate changes and have started the “environmenstrual” movement towards #plasticfreeperiods. This project examines these movements in practice and online, exploring the roles of sport and women in reducing plastic pollution.
Living in Multi-species Communities
Ethics of how our relationships to animals are key in human-ocean health and wellbeing. While we celebrate encounters with dolphins, turtles and whales, encounters with animals like sharks and toxic jellyfish are less romanticised. Encounters with dangerous animals remind us of our vulnerability when we are immersed in ocean ecologies, and can lead to challenges about protecting such species. In Australia, shark nets and drumlines are in place along the east coast as a measure to protect swimmers and surfers from attacks. But these measures have multi-species impacts on sharks, rays, dolphins, whales, birds and many others. This project examines the role of developing relationships of killing animals in order to feel safe in our ocean lifestyle sports.
Localism & Newcomers
Participation in ocean and coastal activities and cultures, like swimming, surfing and sailing, is growing. The role of oceans and ‘bluespaces’ in human health and wellbeing is well known, and more people are taking up activities that immerse them in water, or even simply coastal atmospheres. At the same time, the pandemic has seen migration to coastal areas from cities, leading to changing coastal populations and demographics. The associated growth in crowds at surfbreaks and beaches is leading to tensions over who has authority over coastal cultures and in policy and management practices. This project engages in the cultural politics of surfing and ocean swimming, within the broader context of settler-colonial and multicultural politics.
Beaches, coasts and oceans are common themes and settings throughout Australian literature. Moving Oceans continues to work with AustLit, Australia’s online literary bibliography. Two key projects – Waves of Fiction and Swimming Wild – focus on literary representations of surfing and outdoor swimming in Australian fiction, poetry, memoir and essays. You can access these online collections through AustLit subscriptions (e.g. the National Library of Australia).