About Saltwater Stories

Welcome to saltwaterstories.net, the collaborative research blog for the research project, “Saltwater Stories: Migration, Memory and Identity at the Water’s Edge”


What happens at the waterfront? What happens when water meets land? How might this muddy border space be imagined: historically, conceptually, and materially? This project considers the relationships between migration, memory, and identity as these are mapped onto conceptual and material landscapes in The Netherlands, Suriname, and Newfoundland.

The project as a whole, supported by an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, is an autoethnographic case study that investigates identities formed at what Mary Louise Pratt has termed the “contact zone,” the muddied waters between historical, geographical and political borders.

I use the contact zone of the waterfront as a conceptual metaphor for the relationships between memory, migration, identity, and the landscape, key themes that structure this project. The waterfront is where commodities meet the market, where people come together, and where water meets land. The waterfront is also a material space, embodied in the harbours that managed transnational exchange.

This blog is a working space – a place to explore, examine, and play with ideas and source materials as they emerge. As such, what you will see here are openings to conversations, beginnings rather than endings. There will be loose threads. There will unfinished ideas. But these posts – first written by Sonja Boon (PI), and then also by Tanya Nielsen (PhD student), Lesley Butler, and Daze Jefferies (both Master of Gender Studies students) – will, together, give a sense of research in progress, allowing readers windows into the research process as it unfolds.

Sonja Boon is an Associate Professor of Gender Studies at Memorial University. She has research interests in life written and autoethnography, feminist theory (and particularly corporeal feminisms), bodies and embodiment, and citizenship.

Tanya Nielsen is a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Studies PhD program at Memorial University. She is interested in Latin American women performance artists. Tanya contributed to the blog between September 2015 and September 2016.

Lesley Butler is a Master of Gender Studies student at Memorial University with a background in Anthropology and interests in gender and film, migration, and identity. She joined the project in January 2016.

Daze Jefferies is a Master of Gender Studies student at Memorial University with a background in Folklore and Gender Studies and interests in trans histories, identities, and the politics of place. She joined the project in January 2017.

The project officially began in September 2015 and will continue for two years.

This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.








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