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The Municipal Pool in Australia: Emotional Geography and Affective Intensities

In: Emotions: History, Culture, Society
Author:
Penelope Rossiter Western Sydney University

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Abstract

In many Australian communities, outdoor municipal pools are much loved yet constantly threatened with closure. Threats of closure inspire impassioned responses and it is clear that these seasonal pools offer much more than physical infrastructure. At first glance, the concept of ‘emotional geography’ seems to capture this ‘more’, and this essay, based on research at one such pool, demonstrates how pools afford sociality, embodied experiences and practices of emplacement that emotionally connect people to each other, to nature and to an imagined historical community. However, participants’ narratives also revealed affective intensities, and multisensory evocations of place and self synchronically encountered, that the concept of ‘emotional geography’ cannot capture. To understand the cultural meaning and personal significance of seasonal pools in Australia, we have to feel our way through the placial folding of affective intensities and emotional lives.

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