Narrative and Folklore As Methodologies for Studying Emotions, Embodiment, and Water During the 2014 Elk River Chemical Spill in West Virginia

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Social & Cultural Geography

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Water is an urgent topic of research in cultural and feminist geographies. Geographers study water through interdisciplinary approaches including critical resource geography, political ecology, and feminist theory. An emerging area of research within cultural and feminist geography considers the affective, emotional qualities of water as part of water’s social and political ramifications. Methodologically, the emotional qualities of water are commonly explored through data on everyday lived phenomena and respondents´ narratives. Although emotions have been studied by feminist geographers for at least two decades, geographers continue to debate the range of approaches and methodologies for studying emotions and suggest that methodological gaps remain. An underdeveloped area of research on the emotional geographies of water acknowledges the contextual and performative aspects of narrative. We explore the performative aspects of narrative using folklore studies and its methodological usage in emotional geography. We connect emotional geography with folklore studies concepts of context and performance. We do this through a case study of the 2014 Elk River chemical spill in West Virginia to explore personal experience narrative as a methodological tool for analyzing emotions to contribute to methodologies of emotional geography.


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