Env03
African waters: flows, frictions and disruptions

Convenors:
James Merron (University of Basel)
Sandro Simon (University of Cologne)
Stream:
Environment and Geography
Location:
David Hume, LG.11
Sessions:
Wednesday 12 June, 8:45-10:15, 10:45-12:15

Short abstract:

This panel traces becomings and disruptions in African lifeworlds by inquiring into the relationships between sociocultural transformations and changing waters in times of environmental uncertainty.

Long abstract:

This panel traces becomings and disruptions in African lifeworlds by inquiring into the relationships between sociocultural transformations and changing waters in times of environmental uncertainty. Water is unruly and transformative, both in its absence and its presence. Water enables life, while at the same time creates friction and disruption. In conditions of global climate change, water assumes a pivotal role in what we do, and how we relate to each other. Prolonged droughts, increased flooding, melting ice sheets, rising sea levels or salinisation make the lives of some more difficult while creating possibilities for others. In times of environmental uncertainty, water is a 'total social fact' (Orlove and Caton 2010), gaining crucial relevance for shared existence in uncertain and changing times. New ways of dealing with water - both in scarcity and in abundance - link the local with the global, making relevant the various scales of sociocultural transformations that account for changing waters (be they economic, technological, aesthetic or political processes). This panel invites empirically grounded and theoretically rich contributions that inquire into the relationship between sociocultural transformations and changing water flows in African contexts. We seek accounts of lifeworlds taking place in especially wet or dry environments, in both rural and urban settings. Special consideration will be given to contributions that 'trace becomings and disruptions', that is, contributions that work out attempts of making (orderly) flows as creative or improvised practices around fluctuating waters. Within this frame there is scope to include infrastructure and governance of water, work practices and cosmological engagements with water.