Making Waves: the power of indigenous water beings in contemporary debates about water ownership and governance

Regional rates of infection with water related diseases are – though not exclusively – highly dependent on hydrological conditions. These are varying due to climate change, with greater extremes. Improved hydrological modelling can help with predicting future infection risks, as well as near-term outbreaks to assist health departments. In this seminar, Simon will present results and insights from the NERC funded UnderWRiDE programme, where researchers from Imperial College and Universiti Putra Malaysia focused on the water-related disease leptospirosis. Working with state health departments, they used a variety of statistical techniques to model as well as attempt to predict infection risks based on hydrological, other environmental, and socio-economic factors. In the last phase of the project, low-cost water level sensors, developed in-house by the project’s PI, were deployed at various leptospirosis hot spot sites for continuous participatory monitoring. The talk will conclude with a discussion of citizen science in hydrology more broadly.

Event Type: In-Person Event

Date: 22 February 2023 (Wednesday)

Time: 14:30 – 16:00 GMT

Venue:  Diversity Room, School of Geography and the Environment

Register for the event here.

Speaker Profile

Professor Veronica Strang

Professor Veronica Strang is the Executive Director of the Institute of Advanced Study and a Professor of Anthropology at Durham University.

She is a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on human-environmental relations, materiality, cultural landscapes, property, and, in particular, societies’ engagements with water. She has conducted ethnographic research in Australia, the UK and New Zealand. She also has a close interest in interdisciplinarity, and in developing a reflexive understanding of the processes that enable collaboration across the academy.

Since completing a DPhil at the University of Oxford in 1995, she has held teaching and research positions at the Pitt Rivers Museum and the University’s Environmental Change Unit; the University of Wales; Goldsmiths University; and the University of Auckland. She returned to the UK in 2012 to take up her post in Durham, and from 2013-2017 she served as the Chair of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and the Commonwealth. She was recently appointed to HEFCE’s Interdisciplinary Advisory Panel.

In 2000 she received a Royal Anthropological Institute Urgent Anthropology Fellowship, and in 2007 she was awarded an international water prize by UNESCO. Current work includes assisting the UN in developing new ‘Principles for Water’ to complement its Sustainability Goals; research re-theorising human-non-human relations in river catchment areas; and writing a comparative text examining historical and contemporary beliefs about water beings.

Her publications include Uncommon Ground: cultural landscapes and environmental values (Berg 1997); The Meaning of Water (Berg 2004); Gardening the World: agency, identity and the ownership of water (Berghahn 2009); Ownership and Appropriation (Berg 2010) and Water: nature and culture (Reaktion and Chicago University Press 2015). Further details are available on her website.

This event is hosted by MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management in the School of Geography and the Environment and the Oxford Water Network. 


Feb 22 2023


14:30 - 16:00

More Info

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School of Geography and the Environment
School of Geography and the Environment
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