On Material Encounters Along the River Thames
Keywords:Foreshore, River Thames, Touch, Chronology, Mudlarking, Heterotopia
This paper is an exploration of the points of encounter that become visible through the practice of mudlarking – that is, the gathering of materials from the foreshore along the River Thames in London, England. I first examine the foreshore itself, as the meeting place between underworlds, liquid worlds and surface worlds, positing that it therefore constitutes a borderland. Based on fieldwork carried out in Rotherhithe and Greenwich, I further argue that the spatiotemporal dimension of experience is destabilised in such a location. Another point of encounter is identified as existing between the hand and the found thing, creating a form of tactile material intimacy and performative theorising. Lastly, I suggest that touching and holding are not passive acts, but an interlocking of porous bodies and a way to cohabit with things as they emerge from the mud.
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