Accepted Paper:

'Subterranean water: notes on the political, industrial, therapeutic and hydromantic uses of underground water in central Serbia  

Author:

Maja Petrović-Šteger (The Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts)

Paper short abstract:

The paper looks at the modes of attending to water resources in rural Serbia. The analysis will reveal the uses and the values attributed to the underground water - by looking at the subterranean water economy, industry, quality, water mining practices, as well as its alleged hydromantic properties.

Paper long abstract:

There are over 1000 cold and warm mineral water springs in Serbia, and a great wealth of natural mineral gases and medicinal mud. Thermal resorts are regularly promoted and visited for healing and recovering purposes. On the other hand, country's water infrastructure and wastewater management have been gravely neglected over the last 25 years. Because surface water is often of poor quality, many use the groundwater for supply, irrigation and farming. The paper will look at the modes of attending to the water resources in rural, central Serbia; specifically to the subterranean and spring water. It will portray a particular economy of water in an environmental setting that is marked by heavy droughts, pollution, floods, deforestation, unregulated urban growth and huge industrial demands. The analysis will trace a host of arguments that surround the question of the use and the value attributed to the underground water - its politics, economy, industry, quality, notion of social responsibility, public control, neglect, and water mining practices. These concepts will be further complicated by looking at the practices and narratives that reveal understanding of the subterranean water both as a threatened and threatening, pure and impure, healing and poisonous, protective as well as a hydromantic substance.

Panel P050
Engaging with treasures of the subsurface between extractivism and spiritualism