Volatile waters, improvised worlds: hydrosocial transformations and the making of orderly flows [P+R]
Franz Krause (University of Cologne)
Lukas Ley (Heidelberg University)
Aula 20
Tuesday 16 April, 9:00-10:45, 11:15-13:00, 16:30-18:15 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

This panel and roundtable discuss research that scrutinizes the relationships between various forms of water volatilities and specific sociocultural transformations.

Long abstract:

We live in a world where change has become the status quo, where uncertainty is the only certainty about the future, and where transformations cannot be expected to proceed linearly. Embedded in social, cultural and economic changes, the climate and the environment are changing, too, uprooting even the supposed solidity of physical existence. One of the key elements in climate change is water, in the forms of thawing ice, increased floods, prolonged droughts, rising seas, or salinized soils. If our world is volatile, then water - and its imbrication in social and cultural life - is an epitome of this volatility.

This panel brings together research that scrutinizes the relationships between various forms of water volatilities and human lives. We seek ethnographic accounts that explore how uncertain water fluctuations correspond or conflict with other sociocultural transformations. Furthermore, we are interested in learning about the cosmological, ritual, legal, infrastructural, habitual and other means by which people turn such volatile social-cum-hydrological dynamics into orderly flows, if only temporally. Finally, we hope to discuss examples that showcase the creative tensions between, on the one hand, grand schemes, plans and mechanisms, and on the other hand, improvisation and ad-hoc solutions, in the way different people track, make sense of, and seek to contain such hydrosocial changes.

The following roundtable will focus on emerging topics and common questions from the panel, relating them back to the core issues of hydrosocial volatility and ordering.