Chronos and Kairos: Time, water, memory and the wayfaring riverbank

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Landscapes are both material presences and creations of our cultural imaginations. When we inhabit landscapes we experience both their unique, immediate physical aesthetics and recall other times, other places, other selves that these places bring to mind. We experience what the Ancient Greeks would describe as the confluence of Chronos and Kairos time; the time of Chronos, ‘Big History’, slow moving, chronological, geological time and ‘Kairos’ – faster moving, impactful, seasonal episodes which shape key experiences and define life’s formative events. Like circulating water, shifting tides, Chronos and Kairos time are the ebb and flow of our sensory experiences through life, shaping ourselves and marking out the events which define who we are and how we live with others. A landscape emblematic of Chronos and Kairos time is that of the riverbank, so vital to our embodied selves and sense of place, to our collective imaginations. At once bounded, defined, known, yet continually in transition, being reshaped, remade, through the erosion and deposition action of the water which demarcates them, riverbanks, like the communities and people that live adjacent to them, are constantly in motion, wayfaring across landscape and time, in processes of adjustment and redefinition. Utilising empirical fieldwork undertaken in collaboration with a local community sheltered under the spine of the South Downs in a village which is hallmarked by chalk streams, hidden sewers, peripatetic springs and dew ponds, this chapter explores how the act of recreating a riverbank in the midst of urban fabric is both a cultural and political act. The ‘riverbank’ is a residential road on which a downland spring makes its journey from Chanctonbury Ring to the River Adur. Over the years and generations, village children have played here, sailing handmade paper boats and racing dandelion faeries along the spring, bringing the riverbank to the heart of daily village life. Recently though, changing land-management practices on the downland quills and the impacts of local government austerity measures, have altered the flow of the spring, causing it to billow and flood the road. The spring’s shape shifting dexterity has altered to something more sinister, with the riverbank submerged, buckled and broken by the water. Working in tandem with local residents, the research presented in this chapter explores these changes over time to see how cultural practices, community aesthetics and political solidarity unite around this wayfaring riverbank to work towards returning the spring to its formative place in the heart of community life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMonsoon [+other] Waters
EditorsLindsay Bremner
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Feb 2019


  • Water
  • community activism
  • time
  • monsoon


Dive into the research topics of 'Chronos and Kairos: Time, water, memory and the wayfaring riverbank'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this