A research platform
devoted to water
Here you may find a range of resources reflecting the myriad aspects of performing and politicizing water, from theoretical and practical perspectives to activism and performance art.
We also propose a series of webinars designed to bring scholars, activists, and artists together in exploring how water shapes our politics and our thinking practices.
We invite you
to join our endeavor by making us aware of any additional resources we have yet to post to the platform.
If you would like to contribute teaching materials or
help us expand into additional disciplinary fields, please send us a message.
The ethical questions raised by water – its availability, its pollution, its infrastructural dimension for globalized trade – highlight that water is more than a metaphor of thinking practices. It is a site of deep contention and political crisis, as currencies and currents, ecology and economy flow together or collide.
By exploring water as metaphor, water as infrastructure, and water as basic element, this site will reflect critically on the function and circulation of this unique medium in various cultures, examining its force in fostering collective imaginaries.
By following the stream of thought water traces through mythology, immigration, ecology, new media, and other fields, we will discover how water offers a way to reflect on the vulnerability and improbable resiliency of the Anthropocene in a way that combines performativity and critical thinking.
Since the turn of the century, the question of human rights, in many ways the central accomplishment of preceding generations, has expanded to include the non-human in its embrace, with animal rights and environmental concerns increasingly at the forefront of cultural debates. Scientists, activists and artists have joined causes in sounding the alarm that the ethical cannot be abstracted from the ecological. Philosophy as well, traditionally opposed to empirical logic, has put into doubt the supposed hierarchy of thought over matter. Indeed, an all-too-literal sea-change has led to a conceptual transformation of watershed proportions, exposing anthropocentrism as the harbinger of its own demise. Innovative knowledge practices are promoting models of plasticity and fluidity that no longer conceive of identities or states as static units but as forms of encounters, movements, happenings, etc., implicating all entities in the task of the social where materiality plays a crucial role. This mattering of matter has engendered multiple transformations in the very architecture of our thought constructions, leading to the disabling and disassembly of hierarchies and the emergence of what we could call networks of immersion and subversion.
These networks spawn a fertile matrix of new possibilities, encouraging alternative approaches that particularly acknowledge the power of the performative. Indeed, this permeating groundlessness has brought new urgency to the need for a performative ethics. Scholars, politicians, economists, and performers are acutely aware that these new configurations function in ambivalent ways, equally able to achieve opposing ends. The fields typically covered by the term posthumanism, while already myriad in themselves, are rapidly expanding from the nebula of philosophical and technoscientific knowledge to include international crises such as climate change and immigration. While the human is being eclipsed by the rise of technology in the digital age of virtual realities, the all-too material realities of climate change and geopolitical upheaval are also banishing the human being, not only from its privileged position of ideological sovereignty, but in many literal instances (70 million and counting) from its land of origin as well. We would like to invite renewed investigation into these planetary-scale displacements of the human along three principal areas of inquiry: Mythologies, Ecologies, Currents & Currencies.