This panel seeks to discuss the quotidian epistemologies, technologies, and practices of contestation that people mobilize in the midst of catastrophic floods. By doing so, the papers aim to reflect on the everyday experiences of life and death in the face of global disasters and climate change.
The current situation of global disasters and accelerating climate change has shown that catastrophic floods are at the center of the major threats to humanity. In this context, apocalyptic narratives on the fragility of the world have been driven by accounts and images of disastrous floodwaters disrupting social orders and destroying both landscapes and lives. But how are these unstable and often unpredictable waters actually experienced by people in their everyday life? How do men and women narrate and make sense of these catastrophic hydrologies while living with and witnessing how others have died from them? What kind of technologies, epistemologies, and practices are mobilized to counteract the devastating manifestation of floods? This panel seeks to discuss these questions in light of ethnographic materials that explore the experience of life and death in flooding environments. We aim to understand how catastrophic floods shape, and are shaped by, quotidian interpretations, metaphors, and practices at the intersection of nature, culture, and technology. While predominant approaches to floods mainly focus on global impacts, large-scale control infrastructures, political economy, and the production of vulnerability, this panel proposes a view of the day-to-day texture of the epistemologies and politics of water-related disasters.