Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Anthropology


Department of Global Studies


Visitors to the Danube Delta town of Vylkove, known as the “Ukrainian Venice,” are often disappointed by the condition its 40 kilometers of canals, which frequently resemble over-grown ditches that are often impassible by boat. Consequently, a development organization and town administrators have begun lobbying for funding for a large-scale canal restoration project and for the town’s designation as a heritage site to help in mobilizing funds. However, these tourism-development narratives also assume that all residents can and want to practice an amphibious way of life that prevailed for centuries. Combining analytical frameworks of amphibious anthropology and recent social science literature on water infrastructure helps reveal a) how Vylkovchany’s dwelling practices did not categorically privilege wet over dry (and vice versa) in spite of Enlightenment-inflected narratives of settlement that enact such separations and b) the specific ways in which socialist modernization and postsocialist deindustrialization have modified Vylkovchany’s relations with the Danube’s Kiliia branch and intensified their siltation. This paper makes the case for including ethnographic analyses of terrestrialization as part of an amphibious anthropology and demonstrates the value of amphibious anthropology in pinpointing dynamics of landscape change that should be addressed in designing a restoration project.


Copyright © 2019 by Tanya Richardson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the CC BY-NC 4.0 Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

Included in

Anthropology Commons