More-than-human geographies of water: infringing the water society divide

Authors: Filippo Menga*, University of Reading, Maria Rusca, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden; Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Science (CNDS), 75236 Uppsala, Sweden, Giuliano Di Baldassarre, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden; Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Science (CNDS), 75236 Uppsala, Sweden; Department of Integrated Water Systems and Governance, IHE Delft, 2611 AX Delft, The Netherlands, Alison Browne, School of Environment, Education and Development, Manchester University, M13 9PL Manchester, UK
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Water Resources and Hydrology, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: water, hydraulic infrastructure, more-than-human, temporality, ontology
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 19
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper we explore multiple ways of accounting for the materiality of water and hydraulic infrastructure, as a way to examine how the human and non-human co-constitute social and material worlds. Moving beyond merely acknowledging materiality of water and infrastructures, we illustrate how assemblages of human and non-human components interact and reconfigure, reshaping risk flows, conditions of access to and control over water, contamination and uneven geographies of waterborne diseases. Drawing on the contributions to the Special Issue Water matters: infringing the water-society divide through more than human engagements (Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, forthcoming), we highlight three dimensions: first, we examine the methodological implications of more than human geographies. In particular, we explore how materialities of water and infrastructures might be apprehended, how to research movement, transformation, composition of visible and invisible matter, and what ‘alliances’ can be forged to research and theorise more-than-human geographies. Second, we examine how sociomaterial assemblages can open up transformative spaces for the reconfiguration of risk flows, access to water and collective action. Last, we engage with complex questions on how multiple ontologies, ethics and temporalities shape functional engagements with water and, in turn, the motion, volumes and properties of water matter at different temporal and spatial scales. Underlying these different themes and approaches to apprehending materialities and more than human engagements, the papers share and further understandings that human and nonhuman agents are inseparable and becoming with (Haraway, 2008; Schadler, 2019: 2016).

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