Between One and Many

Experimental Engagements with Water(s)

It is no surprise that water in all its varieties has been one of the richest subjects of scholarship in the environmental humanities. Fresh water is essential to life and threatened by human activities, making it one of the most pressing environmental concerns of the twenty-first century, while other forms of water are similarly vital, threatened, and laden with meaning in their own distinct ways. Moreover, while water may seem singular when conceived of as H2O moving through the hydrological cycle, it is also obviously multiple in its material and cultural manifestations. In all of its fluid complexities, therefore, water serves as a useful test case for understanding the promises and pitfalls of current approaches in the environmental humanities.

How, we ask in this stream, can the seemingly universal nature of water be situated in specific times and places, even while situated analyses of waters-in-the-plural are brought into relation as part of a more general conversation about the precarious conditions of life on Earth? Answering these questions requires moving beyond disciplines and experimenting with new methods of engaging with water(s).

Stream organisers: Etienne Benson and Christy Spackman.