This panel examines hydro-socially informed demands for policy makers to craft water governance with cultural sensitivity and socio-economic responsibility. The aim is to infuse the political ecology of water with ethnographies of the state attentive to the role of culture, affect and cosmopolitics.
This panel analyses the inter-relationship between the lived experience of hydro-sociality, the role of market and state on water management, and shifting paradigms of water governance. Given the strong hydro-affective relationships some societies display, the trans-boundary nature of water-flows, and the rising incidence of inter-state and intra-state water conflicts, we seek to explore the linkages between hydro-sociality and hydro-states. The corporatization of water resources and the commodification of waterscapes, the emerging fresh water scarcity with global climate change, and the rise of water warriors necessitate critical reflections on the political ecology of water governance. With this in mind, the panel invites ethnographically grounded discussions and documentation of citizen and policy-led initiatives demanding the state to be socio-culturally sensitive in its development agenda, and to evolve participatory resource governance and decision-making paradigms in varied contexts. Recent examples include the acts of resistance of the Water Protectors striving to safeguard the Dakota plains as well as the new judicial-legislative moves to recognise 'personhood' in culturally and religiously significant rivers in New Zealand and India. Such phenomena exhibit the encounter between the lived experiences of hydro-sociality ('hydro-social states'), demands for culturally sensitive development practices, citizen encounters with hydro-markets and hydrological governance ('hydro-social States'). The infusion of anthropological concerns that include human-nonhuman relationships, multispecies affects, religious perspectives on water and cosmopolitics will enrich discussions on the political ecology of water. The panelists are also invited to attend a half-day workshop at the end of the conference to work on conceptual synthesis and publication plans.