Folklore, Geography and Anthropology: ways of knowing water/landscape/climate in the Anthropocene

Kate Smith (University of Hull)
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Short abstract:

This panel explores Other kinds of water/landscape/climate knowledge from scholars outside the hard geo-sciences, and asks how Other kinds of knowledge might inform our responses to the challenge of increasingly volatile relationships with water.

Long abstract:

Science tells us that the Anthropocene will bring huge changes to the way that water flows in, around and alongside landscape. Sea levels may rise up to 1.1m by 2100, with substantially higher rises likely if Antarctic ice-melt increases (IPCC, 2019); increasing severity and frequency of extreme coastal flooding and weather events mean that our relationships with water face unprecedented challenge. The Environment Agency's 2019 draft FCERM strategy notes the critical importance of listening to local voices when responding to this challenge. It remains unclear, however, how this kind of Other knowledge is read by flood and climate science. Whilst there has been a move towards the inclusion of memory, informal knowledge and landscape heritage in environmental resiliency, there is still cynicism about whether Other ways of knowing can work in conjunction with 'expert' knowledge (see, for example Haughton et al, 2015). This session responds to that cynicism in two ways. Firstly it asks what can anthropologists, folklorists and human geographers tell flood and climate science about human/water/landscape relationships? Secondly, it asks how we can make that other knowledge intelligible to mainstream climate and flood science. What distinctive perspectives can scholarship from outside the hard geo-sciences bring to the urgent need to develop realistic, Anthropocene-ready resilience strategies? We are particularly interested in papers bringing together folklore studies, anthropology and geography, including (but not limited to): Cryptozoology, belief, and tradition Toponymics/hydronymics and historical geographies Water activism and guardianship Community co-production models Place-legends and place-making Anthropology of water and flooding Risk and resilience Environmental memory