Accepted paper:

Mythologizing water futures in contemporary Albania

Authors:

Natasa Gregoric Bon (Research Centre SASA, Slovenia)

Paper short abstract:

Departing from the notion of water as a 'total social fact', this paper questions how short- and long-term environmental water-connected changes in contemporary Albania are related to the ways in which people understand environmental futures.

Paper long abstract:

Departing from the notion of water as a 'total social fact', this paper questions how short- and long-term environmental water-connected changes in contemporary Albania are related to the ways in which people understand environmental futures. It focuses on the people living in the valley of river Vjosa that springs in northern Greece, straddles the Greek-Albanian border where it continues to flow the Adriatic Sea. Similar to many other rivers the Vjosa has been an important strategic route along which civilisations have formed. Like other rivers in Albania Vjosa's life-giving (birth, life and abundance) and life-taking (floods, loss and danger) nature is embodied in the Albanian mythology that speaks of a dragon-serpent called Kuçedra which is known for her fierce ugliness and frightening powers. This serpent-like giant is ambiguous in character; on the one hand, it can bring about storms, floods or droughts, while on the other it can also protect and connect the sky, water and earth, ensuring general well-being. Even though it seems to be an almost forgotten mythological figure in contemporary Albanian society, Kuçedra still forms an important part of the riverine time-scape. While explicitly floods, water inundations, droughts or soil denudations, as well as different infrastructural interventions (e.g. hydropower plant constructions), are attributed to political machinations, implicitly they can still be seen to resonate with mythological cosmology. Similarly, these underlying mythological components navigate peoples' understandings of their water futures.

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Water futures: making a living in times of environmental uncertainty