River silting, watered common: reimagining Govan graving docks

Olden, Ruth Gilberta Mona (2016) River silting, watered common: reimagining Govan graving docks. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2016OldenPhD.pdf] PDF
Download (13MB)
Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3269056


This thesis imagines an ecological future for the post-industrial landscape of Govan Graving Docks, situated on the banks of the River Clyde in inner city Glasgow. The research is framed by a context of urban renewal and at times violent change in early 21st century Glasgow which has seen the city’s riverside transformed, with centres for culture, tourism and entertainment built on its infilled docks and sites of dereliction. Prompted by the development priorities of this change, and the nostalgia for an industrial past that has become a ‘way of seeing’ the river, this research seeks to better know the material life of this landscape. On Govan Graving Docks - an abandoned ship repair and fitting facility that remains as yet ‘unresolved’ - this thesis unearths the agencies, temporalities, ecologies and material legacies of a less familiar elemental landscape, and considers how these expressions could be tended and extended in a vision for a different future, focused on fostering new kinds of environmental engagement.

The research themes draw insight from emerging theories in new materialism and the environmental humanities, particularly those that are responding to the matter of the Anthropocenic landscape, and they are explored through a repertoire of creative and collaborative field methods crafted with the site of study; variations on ecological performance, landscape and ecological survey work, public consultation, material imagining and sitewriting. These methods are founded on openness and attentiveness, they are opportunist and affirmative in nature, they are practiced on site and taken into the wider estuarine landscape, and they enrol many others beyond the researcher. These methods are first used to explore the expressions of life and vitality that can be found in the Graving Docks’ new ecologies, material memory and more-than-human publics, and then to imagine the creative capacities of these agencies in new configurations of shared possibility. The researcher is another site of investigation: a distributive understanding of agency informs the emergence of an ecological sensibility through material engagement, which has implications both for the design process and the imagined landscape. These resources are used to imagine an alternative future for Govan Graving Docks: it is a vision that works with ruination, re-wilding, and the liquid dynamics of the city; a vision that honours both natural and industrial histories; a vision that is both challenging and necessary, where new experiences of ‘worlding’ in the city are made possible. Through this process of investigation and conjecture, the Clyde imaginary emerges as a space for critical and creative thought; a discursive space where the challenges facing this ecological landscape and its future are explored.

This thesis is both a product of, and contribution towards, cultural geographical enquiry, but it also has an interdisciplinary reach both theoretically and methodologically speaking, which enables the research to contribute to a wider debate about environmental futures that is currently taking place across the sciences and humanities. It can be defined as ‘interdisciplinary in practice’ for the way that it brings a wider range or perspectives to bear on a precarious urban wilderness and its associated communities, and seeks to develop a broader repertoire of research methods capable of exploring it’s diverse material world, and the multiple expressions of value that exist therein. Written in a style that has been highly affected by this kind of open and inclusive style of research engagement, the emotive environmental story that is contained within this thesis is open to a wider audience. This thesis identifies the productive role that cultural geography can play in larger environmental debates concerned with the current state and play of ‘life on earth’, and by enacting and engaging ideas related to the cultural landscape, place-based identities/communities/values, and landscape practices, it also identifies the particular conceptual and methodological resources that make cultural geography’s contribution both unique and necessary to these debates.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Funder's Name: Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
Supervisor's Name: Lorimer, Professor Hayden
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr Ruth Olden
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-8023
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2017 15:29
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2017 12:13
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8023

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year