Water and Gender: A decolonial look at the hydrosocial relations

IPW-Lecture by Thaís Zimovski, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil / University of Vienna

Moderator: Ulrich Brand (Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Uni Wien)
Discutant: Lorena E. Olarte-Sánchez (Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Uni Wien)

The relations between women and water are well known in popular culture, in public policy-making spaces, in academia and even in common sense. Its ramifications reflect through the various human activities. Called a basic necessity, water is naturalized in the daily lives of some parts of society: the more transparent, the less noticed it is. Contemporary authors such as Farhana Sultana and Leila Harris emphasize how water is present in people’s daily lives, in food, clothes, in the production of any commodity, in short, in all the elements that sustain life.

From the 1990s onwards, the connection between water and gender began to be more discussed at international meetings and conferences on water. Since the Dublin conference in 1997, the fundamental role of women in the management of water resources has been studied in the light of feminism, in addition to more specific discussions such as professional, political and social impacts caused by the lack of water and basic sanitation in the lives of women.

On the other hand, we can also observe that studies on water, until recently, were mostly conducted from a technicist perspective. While, currently, new approaches are demonstrating the importance of problems that go beyond the fields of governance, institutional management and engineering. Studies such as those by Nogueira (2019), Zwaeteveen and Boelens (2014), for example, deal with the issue of social well-being, quality of life and subjective dynamics related to the environment. Likewise, authors such as Yujra (2008), Wick (2013), Harris et al. (2020) and Neimanis (2013) start from anthropology and psychosociology to address the cultural impacts of access to water in the daily lives of subjects.

With this presentation, in turn, we will seek to address the intersection between culture and transformation of water landscapes from a critical point of view. More specifically, we aim to observe the ways in which water permeates and is permeated by human action over time, shaping what we call hydrosocial relationships. This means understanding water not as an inert natural element, but as a reality resulting from social relations, whose basis, from a decolonial point of view, is based on language, power relations and the historical trajectory of each region (Gonzalez, 2020).

In summary, we will talk about the reality of subjects who, as shown by Spivak (2015), Sultana (2019) and Harris et al. (2020), do not take water for granted. Above all, we will think of what we can learn from women that are commonly silenced as a source of knowledge by hegemonic science. Finally, following Donna Haraway’s teachings on the fall of the Anthropocene, the class will also reflect on forms of life considered by the neoliberal paradigm as subaltern, but which, by a decolonial view, are shown as less destructive and respectful to the collective life.

Thaís Zimovski Garcia de Oliveira: PhD student in administration at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in the field of Organizational Studies, Society and Work. Master in Business Administration from the same institution. Member of the Nucleus of Organizational Studies and Society (NEOS) since 2014 in which has been researching political subjectivity within the field of organizational studies. Author of critical works on dissident labour experiences, social movements, gender violence and life narratives. Currently working on the relations between water and gender aiming to understand the political experience of women in hydro-social transformations within hydrographic basin committees of the state of Minas Gerais/Brazil. Research Fellow (Ernst Mach Stipendium) within the Research Network Latin America, University of Vienna
Lorena E. Olarte Sánchez: Ph.D. candidate in political science and lecturer in international politics at the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna. She examines social-ecological contentious politics and movements at the intersections of political ecology and a broader state theory. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Science – Sustainable Development Practice from Sciences-Po Paris, a Licenciatura in Journalism-Communications from UNAM, and a diploma in NGO management from Tec de Monterrey. Besides her academic journey, Lorena has more than 12-year international experience working for grass-roots, non-profit foundations, and intergovernmental organizations among others.

Kategorie: Veranstaltungen
Datum: 6. Dezember 2022, 18:30–20:00
Ort: Universität Wien, Institut für Politikwissenschaft