Taking up space: Community, belonging and gender among itinerant boatdwellers on London’s waterways

  • Laura Roberts
Keywords: narrowboats, canals, waterways, hierarchies of belonging, gender


Itinerant boat-dwellers on the waterways in London have been portrayed as a community of like-minded people living alternative lives, sharing skills, resources, and space. This paper complicates the neat presentation of a boating community or imagined community through auto-ethnographic research as an itinerant boat dweller on the waterways in London and through seventeen in-depth interviews conducted within this population in 2017. This research reveals how hierarchies of belonging are created through the exhibition and acquisition of boating know-how and sanctioned through the body along gender lines. The discussion furthers understandings of the lived experiences of itinerant boat-dwellers in London.