Inhabiting the sea gap: living on a boat between systems, ports and possibilities
Nataša Rogelja Caf
(Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts)
Paper short abstract:
The sea as a place signifies something loosely defined as quality of life, has also a quality of a "gap". Experiments of inhabiting the gap, of temporarily unbelonging, will be observed ethnographically, reflecting on liveaboardsꞌ expectations, aspirations and experiences.
Paper long abstract:
Following the experiences of my interlocutors, paper seek to understand attempts of liveaboards as a temporarily unbelonging experiments (Cocker 2014) ̶ an active disassociation in the attempt to clear the ground for something else to emerge. The geographic place of the sea and the liminal imaginaries of the sea can be used as a jumpstart that enables individuals to reflect or even rearrange work and family life, it can be inhabited in a more permanent sense in order to achieve an active retirement, or it can be used as a polygon to experience new relations with societal structures.
Models of liminality and the liminoid (Turner 1974) are only partly useful, as liveaboards enter this "liminal position" voluntarily and once "there" they are actively creating their future options by adopting a critical view that develops into criticality (Rogoff 2006) - a way of inhabiting the problem rather than analysing it. It is exactly this shift towards new knowledge and new skills (acquired in the state of temporarily unbelonging) that can be effectively observed through a longitudinal qualitative approach. The desire of my interlocutors to change things by temporarily unbelonging does not signal a passive or romantic longing for wilderness or freedom but it rather creates a productive gap that enables them to learn new modes of action and thought. By reflecting on bits and pieces from life histories the paper tries to answer the question why and how is the sea suited for these endeavours?
Dwelling on water: mobilities, immobilities and metaphors