The Terrestrialization of Amphibious Life in a Danube Delta 'Town on Water'
The Danube Delta town of Vilkovo is often called the ‘Ukrainian Venice’ because of its 40 kilometers of canals. Many of these canals, however, are rapidly filling in with silt and are often impassible by boat. Tourism entrepreneurs and town administrators have begun lobbying for funding for a large-scale canal restoration project and for the town’s designation as a heritage site. Their tourism-development narratives, however, often overlook or simplify a complex set of social and environmental factors that have shaped residents’ past and present relationships with the Danube River. This article counters this tendency by providing an ethnographic portrait of terrestrialization—a term I use to name the confluence of geomorphological, ecological and social change in Vilkovo—that draws on townspeople’s descriptions of their dwelling practices. It combines insights from amphibious anthropology and social science literature on water infrastructure in order to pinpoint issues that need to be addressed in developing the town’s tourist economy, and makes the case for including studies of terrestrialization as part of an amphibious anthropology.
Copyright (c) 2019 Tanya Richardson
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