This panel explores how social relationships are intertwined with the circulation of water. It aims at highlighting the water-related aspects of circulation, as well as the circulatory and connecting aspects of dealing with water.
Conceptualizing one of the discipline's core ideas, 'exchange', anthropologists have developed the metaphor of 'circulation' to account both for the necessity of giving and receiving in the forging of social relationships, and for the making of communities, hierarchies, enemies and taboos in the process. This is evident not only in Mauss's observations regarding the gift, but also in Malinowski's Kula Ring and the Bohannans' spheres of Tiv exchange. Recent developments in anthropological theory have re-emphasized the material aspects of social and cultural life. Strang and others have demonstrated that in particular water is widely regarded as a cultural and material instantiation of relationships. Likewise in human geography, a number of studies have investigated the role of water in shaping communities and political struggles. Framing water and water networks as a socio-natural 'cyborg', Linton proposes to replace the concept of the hydrologic cycle with that of the 'hydrosocial cycle' as the latter more clearly emphasizes human engagement in the dynamics of water in the landscape. This panel explores how social relationships are intertwined with the circulation of water. It aims at highlighting the water-related aspects of circulation, as well as the circulatory and connecting aspects of dealing with water. How are water provision and sewage systems constitutive and indicative of social relations? What role does water itself play in conflicts over water management, e.g. along rivers, on lakes and in wetlands? And how is the hydrologic - or 'hydrosocial' - cycle invoked and utilized by conflicting actors?