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Hybrid climbing bodies: the climbing assemblage and the technologically mediated engagements and ascensions of rock climbers

Barratt, Paul Richard


Paul Richard Barratt


Sally Eden

Russell Hitchings


This thesis contributes an Actor Network Theory inspired approach to the study of rock climbing to argue that climbers are more-than-human fusions comprised of the human and non-human. The research explores this notion of hybrid climbers, which I term the ‘hybrid climbing assemblage’. The complicated relationships between these human and technological co-agents of climbing are durable but dynamic, although technological developments aid climbers, the benefits of these fusions cannot be reduced to physical, technical and mental elements. Rather, each piece of technology worn or carried by the climber has its own situated set of relations which are interwoven into the complex socio-technical assemblage that co-constitutes the present day climber. Empirical data to support this study has been collected via participant observation, and interviews with 40 rock climbers based in northern England. Although some of these voices debate the roles of these technologies and their experiential impacts upon climbing, these developments are not necessarily damaging to the experience. Indeed, climbers are careful to retain the ‘desirable’ and ‘essential’ experiential aspects of the activity – notably the risk and uncertainty climbing entails. Finally, the thesis also adds to debates concerning the materially mediated experience of places, and how places are also involved in the development of socio-technical assemblages and their practices. In these ways this research aims to help us rethink our activities as implicitly mediated by technology.


Barratt, P. R. (2010). Hybrid climbing bodies: the climbing assemblage and the technologically mediated engagements and ascensions of rock climbers. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Sep 27, 2011
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Geography
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Geography, The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 2010


Thesis (13.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2010 Barratt, Paul Richard. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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