Waterways and the Cultural Landscape. By Francesco Vallerani and Francesco Visentin (eds). Abingdon: Routledge. 2018.

"Waterways and the Cultural Landscape" is the collection of texts by various authors. As Hanna Pitt notices in her review on the portal “This volume brings inland waterways, particularly canals, out of the shadows, celebrating their significance to cultural heritage and tourism.” She further explains that they link the cultural and the natural, especially their significance to industrial heritage and landscapes is clear.

The reviewer notices that the volume suggests there is a lot of hidden histories yet to be discovers through examining waterways. To Hanna Pitt particularly fascinating was the revelation of women’s role in engineering France’s majestic Canal du Midi: “Chandra Mukerji details how peasant women  brought labour and vernacular expertise in channelling water to the canal’s construction, offering skills usually masked by celebration of elite masculine expertise.” As the critic emphasizes such stories show the potential of using waterways as a lens to study social relations and human–environment interactions.

Indeed, as Ms Pitt pinpoints a few texts from the collection present a lifecycle perspective, tracking waterways through phases of develoment, decline and regeneration. According to Visentin, for example, “such an epochal shift from industrial transport to leisure resource is matched by a change in human relationships with water, from attempts to control or dominate, towards recognition of the need for ecological renewal”.

The whole review can be read on this site.


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