Funeral processions for the Oder River, Warsaw. (Source: Aleksandra Klimek Lipnicka; Courtesy of Cecylia Malik, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons).
Mourning Rivers

A Way of Negotiating the Future





Considering three examples of rivers in Europe, this article examines how ecological grief can trigger environmental discourses and awareness concerning the UN SDGs. We define heritage as a cultural practice involved in constructing and negotiating a range of values and understandings through engagement between people, things and places. Among humans, nature can be mourned and the emotions of loss, sadness and yearning can inspire activism. Organizing funerals for nature has become an important element of mourning the death of “loved ones” and fighting for their revival, thus drawing the attention of the wider society to ecological problems. In discourses seen as central to attracting support and making changes real, nature is represented using powerful metaphors of life and death. We argue that the symbolic mourning for rivers creates a space to collectively express ecological grief, loss and other feelings in a way that supports struggles for ecological justice. In shared loss, there could be restoration.

How to Cite

Tusznio, J., & Strzelecka, M. (2022). Mourning Rivers: A Way of Negotiating the Future. Blue Papers, 1(1), 77–87.





challenges, concepts and new approaches

Author Biographies

Joanna Tusznio, Jagiellonian University

Environmental sociologist, working in an interdisciplinary social science research team in the Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. She studies human-nature relations in the Anthropocene with special focus on the perspective of local societies, their reaction to environmental change and loss, and participation in nature conservation. Her current research considers the role of anthropogenic landscapes and post-nature to human well-being, and the coexistence of human and wildlife in urban (wild boar) and rural (European bison) areas.

Marianna Strzelecka, Linnaeus University

Her work draws from the fields of political science, sociology, psychology, and political ecology to shed light on sociocultural aspects of the relationships between communities of place and local ‘natures’, and how tourism makes it possible to renegotiate these relationships. Marianna works with concepts of justice, empowerment, and nature stewardship. While she holds an associate professor position at Linnaeus University in Sweden, she is also affiliated with the Environmental Social Science Research Team at the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, where she is looking into the role of tourism and outdoors recreation in shaping human-nature relationships.


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