Accepted paper:

Pipelines, wells and satellites: where does the imagination of the "manageability" of climate change come from?


Marketa Zandlova (Charles University in Prague)

Paper short abstract:

The paper, based on the ethnography of drought in Czechia, explores the interplay between the actors' assumptions about water scarcity/abundance, their notions of infrastructure as material form facilitating water supply, and their imaginations of the "manageability" of environmental change.

Paper long abstract:

During my research on drought in Southern Moravia, the Czech Republic, one of my research partners, who lives in a flat in a village, told me: 'We have a water pipeline here, so I´m not concerned about the drought'. A man from the neighbourhood, manager of a big farm, seems to ponder the question of the potential water scarcity much more carefully. Although the farm has satisfactory access to water currently, he plans to dig a deeper well that could help to secure enough irrigation water in the future. In the very same region, a team of natural scientists from the Czech Academy of Sciences conducts part of their larger project called InterSucho ('InterDrought'), aimed at monitoring and prediction of meteorological and agricultural drought. In their expertise, based mainly on measurements (satellites, moisture meters etc.) and mathematical models, Southern Moravia is one of the most vulnerable regions to drought in Czechia, directly endangered by future episodes of very serious lack of surface water as well as groundwater. Analyzing this three cases, I would like to explore the interplay between (1) the actors' assumptions about the current and future water scarcity/abundance, stemming from the assemblage of various knowledge systems and experience; (2) the actors' notion of the significance of water infrastructure as technology and material form; and (3) the imaginations concerning the "manageability" of the changes in the complex geo-bio-physical and socio-cultural systems resulting from the environmental instability.

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Water futures: making a living in times of environmental uncertainty