Negotiating underwater space: The sensorium, the body and the practice of scuba-diving

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The desire to escape from land-based bodily constraints, to become enchanted by the spectacle of technicolour reefs, sunken ships and otherworldly creatures, is growing in popularity despite the expense and training required to explore the ocean depths. This dense water world, where a person’s resistance to gravitational pull results in differing feelings of weightlessness, where sound travels about five times faster yet more unevenly than in air, and where verbal communication is impractical such that visual cues are necessary, calls for a different ‘way of being’ to the everyday spaces of the home or the workplace. It is these different ways of being and feeling that I explore in this paper. To do this I present a sensual phenomenology that pays particular attention to the reorganization of the sensoria of a group of novice divers as they start to gain an awareness of the different perceptual means by which they move through and sense underwater space. The paper concludes by highlighting that phenomenological accounts of tourist space can shed light on the intricacies of tourists’ lived experiences, which in turn could prove useful in the structure and organization of tourist activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-223
Number of pages9
JournalTourist Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


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