City Water Matters: the cultures, practices and meanings of urban water.
Workaround: In current version of Panels 3.8, it seems this body field needs to be populated in order for title above to appear. This note is hidden by custom CSS style. Jack Latimer.
Human beings are constituted of water. 75 % of men’s body mass and 68% of women’s body mass is made up water. The water content of the organic world of plants can be as high as 80%. We not only depend on water, we are constituted of it and without water we would die. Water lies at the very heart of the interconnectedness and entanglements of humans with their environment and reveals, arguably more than any other substance, the impossibility of thinking of ourselves as separate from nature. Water exists as a resource through a complex intersection of socio- technical networks and systems, and is a site of different cultural meanings and social practices across time and space. Water is enmeshed in a myriad of governmental and regulatory practices as well as private markets and complex forms of provision. Its abundance as well as its scarcity is constituted in public discourses and political decisions, implicated in relations of power as these are, as much as ‘natural’ occurring phenomena as rains, floods, and drought. Water enables and constitutes a multiplicity of publics, embodied practices, and diverse forms of sociality. Water is far from being the natural resource it is often assumed to be.
Not only does water cross the boundaries of different substances, with complex intersections and effects, the very complexities of current and impending water crises across the world, lead to greater uncertainties as to what kinds of solutions are possible. Indeed many see water as the most pressing concern of the twenty first century, which is likely to lead to massive migrations and water wars. And at the same time there is less and less certainty as to how best to resolve the scarcity of water, or its over abundance in the form of floods, in many parts of the world.
There are a plethora of studies from the Global South which analyze the very serious problems of water supply and sanitation faced by many cities, and particularly their poorer inhabitants, across the world. There are also now a diversity of accounts which connect cities and water in relation to questions of infrastructural and techno- social networks and consumption practices and pricing. What has been less explored are the cultural meanings of water in cities, their role in the constitution of multiple publics and local identities, and the ways in which the different forms of provision of water from its production through to its consumption in city spaces, are central to the construction of city cultures and local cultural practices. This project takes this more cultural focus on cities and water within an international perspective. By using examples and illustrations from a number of cities the research aims to explore the different cultural meanings attached to water in different cities, as well as the different significance and practices associated with the topic under discussion- be it consumption, sanitation, public displays, bathing pleasures, water technologies, urban water fronts, religious practices and so on. In this way it aims to develop a truly international perspective on the differentiated importance of water for cities across the world. A further dimension to run through the research will be an attention to gender, and the different relations of men and women to water in the city.