Dangerous Waters

Dangerous Waters: Security threats and their role in community formation among itinerant boat-dwellers on the waterways of southern England.

Benjamin Bowles



When living aboard a narrowboat on the waterways of southern England with the itinerant boat-dwellers who term themselves “Boaters,” one has to be cautious and vigilant in the face of a number of potential threats to the safety and security of one’s self and one’s vessel. Moorings in certain areas are attacked and burgled frequently and most Boaters have stories of unwarranted violent attacks or, at least, heated confrontations with locals residents. The following paper discusses how Boaters bind together and create a sense of being a vigilant community as a reaction to these threats and challenges. It argues that Boaters make their community against a boundary formed by personal security threats from the outside and that an examination of these threats can shed light upon processes of Boater’s identity formation and the emergence of intra-community tensions.

Keywords: Security, boaters, community

Download Full Text – Bowles 2014

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