Salted Earth: Salt-Making as a Poetics of Mobility and Place

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


Salt pans and Salinas (saltworks) still exist as physical remnants of another period of global trade, when salt was a valuable commodity. My research into the salt trade shows the changing nature of global commodity movements and relationships between rural and urban areas, and the need for these remnants of another era to reinvent themselves. It also highlights the residual qualities of salt as a an index, representing a poetics of place, movement and memory. Fragments of salt products
still exist today, such as salt-fish, which is produced for its cultural value rather than necessity. Salt persists in language in words such as salami, salary, and salad. But the saltworks which were once fought over for the value of their product are now struggling to maintain themselves.

Salt pans and saltworks exist mainly on the edge of cities, and in rural coastal areas, and are often a physical trace of past mobilities, part of cycles of migration and trade. These sites can be read in a number of ways: as a technology that has altered little over centuries, still working in synergy with the environment and ecology of place; as a set of processes of harvesting, storing and preserving which become almost a physical archive which could stand in for memory and cultural preservation; and as architectural and landscape interventions which have a specific aesthetic and
vernacular relating to their use, one which is being re-used in concepts of heritage for tourism.

In this chapter I explore how these sites and aspects of salt-making processes including slowness, seasonality, and crystallisation, could be adapted to form a poetics which can offer spatial practitioners new approaches in thinking about place, trade and mobilities, between the rural and urban.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRurality Re-Imagined
Subtitle of host publicationVillagers, Farmers, Wanderers, Wild Things
EditorsBen Stringer
PublisherORO Editions/Applied Research & Design
ISBN (Print)9781940743349
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2018


  • Salt
  • Rurality
  • Art Practice
  • Place


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