Water scenarios: forecasting and liquid knowledge

Frida Hastrup (University of Copenhagen)
Christian Vium (Aarhus University)
Start time:
25 August, 2010 at 11:30
Session slots:


Human life depends on water. However, to exist we need the right amount of water in the right places. At present, people all over the world are faced with extraordinary instances of excess or shortage of water, which force us to investigate the water scenarios that emerge in response to this situation. In times of crisis spurred by water out of place, whether in terms of surplus or scarcity, novel imageries of the wet and the dry evolve and call for anthropological attention. Furthermore, the very situations that people respond to are often in themselves liquid in nature and thus not entirely knowable; even detailed and supposedly detached scientific models of projected water flows, sea level rise, and increased desertification and so on have an inbuilt element of imagination. In that sense, the forecasting of different water scenarios is a comprehensive imaginative enterprise that resides with climatic experts as well as with amateurs, all of whom make the most of their liquid knowledge in order to keep emergencies at bay. Against the backdrop of the current climate crisis and other prevalent environmental concerns this workshop invites analyses of the meanings of water, whether as threat, commodity, scientific fact, site of political contestation, ritual component, aesthetic device or other.