Margaret Somerville

This is an invitation to readers to ponder universal questions about human relations with rivers and water for the precarious times of the Anthropocene. The book asks how humans can learn through sensory embodied encounters with local waterways that shape the architecture of cities and make global connections with environments everywhere.

The book considers human becomings with urban waterways to address some of the major conceptual challenges of the Anthropocene, through stories of trauma and healing, environmental activism, and encounters with the living beings that inhabit waterways. Its unique contribution is to bring together Australian Aboriginal knowledges with contemporary western, new materialist, posthuman and Deleuzean philosophies, foregrounding how visual, creative and artistic forms can assist us in thinking beyond the constraints of western thought to enable other modes of being and knowing the world for an unpredictable future. Riverlands of the Anthropocene will be of particular interest to those studying the Anthropocene through the lenses of environmental humanities, environmental education, philosophy, ecofeminism and cultural studies.

Ripples on the water, rocks and reflections…

To our life-giving global waterways and all those who have looked after them since time immemorial, and the Gundungarra D’harawal, Darug, Guringai and Gadigal peoples of the Hawkesbury Nepean River system, who continue to care today”

Blue objects collected by the Bower bird
The bowers of the Bower birds
Table of Contents

Preface  1. A blue literature review  2. Rivers of the Anthropocene  3. Watery beginnings   4. Walking the songlines of the singing painting river  5. Riverland’s watery ways  6. Bedrock’s sacramental becomings  7. The river’s crossing  8. Global materialities: and the artful excess of river’s litter  9. Regeneration: of trees, weeds and tender intimacies   10. Life and death in the Anthropocene   Epilogue

The Nepean River today is the basis of an urban ecology passing through increasingly dense sites of urban agglomeration. Fish and other aquatic creatures, birds, reptiles, insects, mammals, plants, all living things can only thrive in these urban ecologies because of the corridors of connection created by the waterways. Every day on the Nepean River is a new day: swans have come and gone with the passage of winter into Spring, red browed finches twitter all round, a bower bird exhibits its ever changing collection of blue objects to attract his harem, tiny silver fish disturb the still surface of the river as they jump for insects, eastern water dragon lizards become territorial, a dark swamp wallaby passes by, wattles come into bloom, in an endless proliferation of life in this urban commons. Now more than ever new songlines, storylines, ways of being and knowing in are needed to sing the places of our waterways into wellbeing. The song sings on as the Hawkesbury Nepean River asks its question, how can I bring the river to you as the reader?

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