Tropical Geography ›› 2022, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (7): 1128-1137.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003517

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Place Memory on the Movement: Mobility and Collective Memory Construction of Fishermen in the South China Sea

Xuanyu Liu1,2(), Yungang Liu1,3()   

  1. 1.School of Geography & The Center of Administrative Division and Spatial Governance, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    2.School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    3.Beidou Research Institute, South China Normal University, Foshan 528225, China
  • Received:2022-05-19 Revised:2022-06-29 Online:2022-07-05 Published:2022-07-23
  • Contact: Yungang Liu;


For a long time, the field of marine geography has been located at the edge of the discipline, strengthening the terrestrial bias of human geography. Fishermen, one of the few action actors in the ocean, have natural mobility characteristics. Existing research on fishermen pays more attention to the temporal and spatial regulations and distribution of their mobility than the social and cultural connotations generated in the process of their flow. From the perspective of mobility and collective memory, a typical fishing village in the east of Hainan Province was selected as a case study, and through participatory observation, semi-structured interviews, and text analysis, the construction of the local memory of fishermen in the process of mobility was comprehensively understood. In this study, the following points were found: First, according to research on the new paradigm of mobility, the world interact with each other through the flow of nodes and the space of flows, with emphasis on liquidity from the state of "flow, berthing, settled" in three different space-time conceptions to describe the world, thus inferring the Hainan fishermen's marine mobility, at least in the scope of time and space, material basis, and the paths of nodes. Second, collective memory is an important way for fishermen to interact with each other and construct emotions in the flow process. The core of this is fishing and hunting culture and the cross-border network. Three points should be made clear when discussing the collective memory of fishermen from the perspective of mobility: First, collective memory is essentially based on the "present" and a construction of the "past", and a change of subject will greatly affect the continuity and inheritance of memory. Second, memory is formed by personal emotions and objective environments. For fishermen, collective memory unfolds in a specific place, shifting with different spatial scales through a landscape of physical and symbolic memories. Third, geographical and social mobility complement each other, exacerbating the differences of fishermen and leading to the fragmentation or failing of collective memory. This paper makes two contributions to this concept: (1) Taking the phenomenon of the flow of fishermen as an example, the ocean is examined from the perspective of the ocean, emphasizing the importance of the connection between the ocean and land. It also goes beyond the land's perspective of the sea, indicating that the ocean is an equally important substrate for the integration of socio-cultural, political, and economic transformation processes and should not be regarded as a negative space of land. Instead, it is the center of the process of knowledge production, concrete experience, and understanding the transcendence of the present. (2) It responds to the attention of the new mobility paradigm to special space and compensates for the missing dimension of interaction between the marine environment and human activity.

Key words: mobility, fishermen in the South China Sea, place memory, collective memory, human-ocean relationship, Hainan Province

CLC Number: 

  • C912.81