University Of Tasmania

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On why we dig the beach: Tracing the subjects and objects of the bucket and spade for a relational materialist theory of the beach

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 02:29 authored by Adrian FranklinAdrian Franklin
This article investigates the origins of the bucket and spade as a foundational element in the relational materialism of the beach as a space of vacationing. Using the intensification of Romantic beach painting through the early nineteenth century alongside prose descriptions and the development of photography at the beach, the article locates more precisely than ever before how the bucket and spade derived from the cohabitation of the beach by pioneering Romantic travellers and ethnic fishing cultures in which the former fell under the spell of the latter. It traces material connections and relations that transformed both creating new visitor subjectivities around an active engagement with the multiple affordances of the beach and a transformation of local peasant cultures from fishing and foraging to livelihoods based on the provisioning and facilitation of vacationing. The bucket and spade holds more significance than its role as a sandcastle-building tool; seen through the tidal changes and the different angles of photography, and especially through their relational engagement with the beach, the agency of the bucket and spade is revealed.


Publication title

Tourist Studies: An International Journal








School of Social Sciences


Sage Publications Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2014 The Author

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other culture and society not elsewhere classified

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