Chapter 8 Water: Flooding Memory

Drawing on the work of a range of feminist theorists, from classic voices such as Julia Kristeva and Hélène Cixous to the contemporary thinking of Astrida Neimanis and Nancy Tuana, this chapter asks how we might think with and through water.


  1. What might be the implications of a “watery subjectivity”? What might it mean to “water” feminist theory? What might it mean to think with and through water?
  2. In her essay, “Justice and Longing” (full reference below), Deborah Bird Rose makes distinctions between water as lifework and water as deathwork. Can you find examples of this? How do life- and death-work intersect – flow – between and through one another?


Middle Cove Beach in winter, Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Sonja Boon
Middle Cove Beach, Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Sonja Boon
Photo credit: Daze Jefferies
Crow Head, Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Sonja Boon
The view from Signal Hill, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Sonja Boon
Sunset, near Crow Head, Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Sonja Boon


Alexander, M. Jacqui. 2006. Pedagogies of crossing: Meditations on feminism, sexual politics, memory, and the sacred. Durham: Duke University Press.

Anderson, Kim, Barbara Clow, and Margaret Haworth-Brockman. 2013. Carriers of water: Aboriginal women’s experiences, relationships, and reflections. Journal of Cleaner Production60: 11-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2011.10.023.

Bartlett, Alison. 2005. Breastwork: Rethinking breastfeeding. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.

Cixous, Hélène. 1976. The laugh of the medusa. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 1 (4): 875-893.

Eades, Quinn. 2015. All the beginnings: A queer autobiography of the body. North Melbourne: Tantanoola.

Fisk, Harold. 1944. Geological investigation of the alluvial valley of the lower Mississippi River. Vicksburg: War Department Corps of Engineers.

Giles, Fiona. 2002. Fountains of love and loveliness: In praise of the dripping wet breast. Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering 4.1: 7-18.

Giles, Fiona. 2004. ‘Relational and strange’: A preliminary foray into a project to queer breastfeeding. Australian Feminist Studies 19.45: 301-14. doi: 10.1080/0816464042000278981.

Giles, Fiona. 2005. The well-tempered breast: Fostering fluidity in breastly meaning and function. Women’s Studies 34.3-4: 301-26. doi: 10.1080/00497870590964200.

Grosz, Elizabeth. 1994. Volatile bodies: Towards a corporeal feminism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Ingersoll, Karin Amimoto. 2016. Waves of knowing: A seascape epistemology. Durham: Duke University Press.

Kristeva, Julia. 1982. Powers of horror: An essay on abjection. New York: Columbia University Press.

Longhurst, Robyn. 2001. Bodies: Exploring fluid boundaries. New York: Routledge.

Longhurst, Robyn. 2008. Maternities: Genders, bodies and space. New York: Routledge.

Million, Dian. 2014. There is a river in me: Theory from life. In Theorizing native studies, ed. Audra Simpson and Andrea Smith, 31-42. Durham: Duke University Press.

Morrison, Toni. 1995. The site of memory. In Inventing the truth: The art and craft of memoir, ed. William Zinsser, 83-102. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Neimanis, Astrida. 2012. Hydrofeminism: Or, on becoming a body of water. In Undutiful daughters: New directions in feminist thought and practice, eds. H. Gunkel, C. Nigianni and F. Soderback, 96-115. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Neimanis, Astrida. 2013. Feminist subjectivity, watered. Feminist Review 103: 23-31.

Neimanis, Astrida. 2017. Bodies of water: Posthuman feminist phenomenology. Sydney: Bloomsbury.

Nguyễn, Patricia. 2017. Salt| water: Vietnamese refugee passages, memory, and statelessness at sea. WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 45.1-2: 94-111. doi:

Probyn, Elspeth. 2016. Eating the ocean. Durham: Duke University Press.

Rose, Deborah Bird. 2007. Justice and longing. In Fresh water: New perspectives on water in Australia, eds. Emily Potter, Alison Mackinnon, Stephen McKenzie and Jennifer McKay, 8-20. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Shaw, Rhonda and Alison Bartlett, eds. 2010. Giving breastmilk: Body ethics and contemporary breastfeeding practice. Toronto: Demeter Press.

Shildrick, Margrit. 1997. Leaky bodies and boundaries: Feminism, postmodernism, and (bio)ethics. London and New York: Routledge.

Walcott, Derek. 2007. Selected poems. London: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Young, Iris Marion. 2005. On female body experience: ‘Throwing like a girl’ and other essays. New York and Toronto: Oxford University Press.


(c) Sonja Boon, Lesley Butler, and Daze Jefferies, 2018.