Postcards from the Underground

  • Astrida Neimanis University of Sydney
  • Perdita Phillips


This article draws lessons from a walkshop organised by the authors to Lithgow, NSW, where participants walked through a park dedicated to former coal-based infrastructures to arrive at the Lithgow mining museum. The aim of the walkshop was to better understand the tensions around groundwater and extraction in Australia. This article focuses on two key elements of the walkshop: (1) First, they interrogate an attempt to engage bodily with an elemental phenomenon—groundwater—that is for the most part inaccessible to human experience. The authors thus draw on the practice of posthuman phenomenology (Neimanis) to explain how bodily attunement to our own wateriness, alongside the “proxy stories” of arts and sciences expertise, can aid in bringing groundwater into lived experience. (2) Second, they ask how walkshopping—as a coming together—can nonetheless hold onto the ambivalences, tensions, and glitches that are part of sharing space in the face of fraught issues such as mining. Here, the authors turn to Lauren Berlant’s recent writing on the commons. They suggest that their walkshop was what Berlant would call ‘training’ in living with the awkward and complicit relations of being in common.


Funding acknowledgement

This research was supported by the FASS (University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) and Artsource Global City AIR - State Government of WA funding.

How to Cite
NeimanisA., & PhillipsP. (2019). Postcards from the Underground. Journal of Public Pedagogies, (4).