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date: 21 May 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Focusing on water as a connective material flow, this chapter reconsiders notions of community, agency, and identity from the perspective of contemporary debates on ecological ethics and relationality. By articulating the fluid relationships between humans, nonhumans, and the material world, these debates critique dominant conceptual assumptions about Nature and Culture as separate domains. Such assumptions continue to underpin water policy and management, casting ecosystems—and their dependent species—as the subjects of human action, with generally poor outcomes for their well-being. The chapter draws on actor-network theory, philosophical ideas about ethics, and analyses of materiality to propose a re-imagined model of “community” that reintegrates the human and nonhuman, and opens up the potential for more reciprocal—and thus more sustainable—human‒environmental relationships. In doing so, it proposes a new kind of “participatory” framework for water policy development.

Keywords: ecological justice, water policy, human‒environmental relationships, agency, materiality, identity, community

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