Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

    Mundane tourism mobilities on a watery leisurescape: canal boating in North West England

    Kaaristo, Maarja (2018) Mundane tourism mobilities on a watery leisurescape: canal boating in North West England. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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    There are over 3,000 miles of navigable inland waterways in England and Wales, managed mainly by the Canal and River Trust, which promotes their use for various leisure activities. Canals have undergone a radical transformation in their use and purpose, from being important transport links in the 18th and 19th centuries, to largely being left derelict. During the 20th century, however, the canals have been transformed from an obsolete infrastructure into a modern leisurescape used by various individuals, groups and stakeholders. Concentrating on the canals of Northern England and Northern Wales, this thesis focuses on one of those groups on the canals who have not yet received sufficient academic attention, the holiday and leisure boaters. In order to research tourism, a temporary and mobile phenomenon, with the commitment necessary for an ethnographic research, this study develops a methodology, reflexive mobile ethnography that combines the mobilities approach and European ethnology, utilizing semi-structured interviews, participant observation and auto-ethnography for data collection. As no previous academic study has presented a comprehensive analysis of contemporary canal tourism as a lived and embodied experience, the present study extends our understanding of inland waterways tourism and mobilities. Theoretically, the study suggests studying tourism mobilities from the everyday life perspective – mundane tourism mobilities – and the data analysis shows that these are simultaneously material, embodied, temporal and convivial. A number of materialities have to come together in order to constitute mobile assemblages that make canal travel possible. These assemblages, such as boat-humans, move in the temporal canalscape, characterised by its specific – slow – tempo, but also engaging with the past in embodied ways. Furthermore, the canal temporalities are characterised by mundane socio-natural and socio-bodily rhythms, which are identified in the thesis through the rhythmanalysis of the leisure boating everyday life. The material and temporal practices of boating take place in the context of social interactions and their closer examination helps to redefine the boundaries of a canal boating community. This study therefore presents an analysis of the canal leisurescape where the human and non-human form various co-agencies and assemblages, experienced in embodied ways in the context of mundane tourism mobilities. The latter framework, as developed in this thesis, constitutes a theoretical contribution to mobilites studies by proposing to research tourism from the perspective of everyday life focusing on three key elements: time, place and practice. The work will therefore extend existing understanding of tourism mobilites, particularly in the ways in which they relate to embodied everyday life practices.

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