P29
Muddy footsteps and hydrosocial futures: understanding relationality with, through and about water

Convenors:
Franz Krause (University of Cologne)
Caterina Scaramelli (Amherst College)
Discussant:
Nikhil Anand (University of Pennsylvania)
Format:
Panels
Location:
Science Site/Engineering E102
Start time:
6 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

Hydrosociality had occupied anthropologists for a long time. We invite to think through the uses and limits of classic anthropological footprints through the muddy terrain of human engagements with water, exploring the hydrosociality concept for understanding current and past water predicaments.

Long abstract:

The links between social and hydrological relationships have occupied anthropologists for a long time. This is evident, for example, in longstanding engagements with seafaring (Malinowski), seasonal flooding (Evans-Pritchard) and irrigation (Wittfogel), as much as in more recent work on maritime identities, water expertise and infrastructures, water symbolism, and climates. Traditions of anthropological thinking are much less dry than often portrayed. However, in the context of current concerns about water scarcity, flood risk, water pollution and climate change, these traditions have acquired renewed salience, while also interrogating the role of water itself as "theory machine" (Helmreich) in anthropology. Anthropological studies of water and attempts to understand the role of water in society and culture —hydrosociality— are burgeoning. By "hydrosociality" we mean the manifold ways in which human and non-human becoming is meshed in relations that are simultaneously social and hydrological, in the sense of involving or impinging on the circulation, distribution and quality of water, as well as on the materials that water gathers: muddy sediments. What happens when hydrosociality meets its sediments? This panel will provide an opportunity to think through the uses and limits of classic anthropological footprints through the muddy terrain of human engagements with water, and to explore the utility of the hydrosociality concept for understanding current and past water predicaments. We use hydrosociality to interrogate ethnographically watery relations, scaffoldings and sediments. We welcome paper proposals that make explicit what muddy footsteps they engage with and how the hydrosocial figures in their approach.