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Social Water

We encounter water every day. It is a vital substance biologically as much as socially. We may notice this in art exhibitions and university courses communicating submersed and subversive facts about water; the rhythms of floods and tides resonating with fishing techniques and conflict patterns; inundations carrying moral and political weight as much as water and pollution; and particular mixtures of water and land generating wealth, anxieties and memories. In short, wherever people deal with water, they are involved not only with a physical element, but also with social relations. In fact, whenever we pretend that water is foremost the molecule H2O, we ignore all the political, economic, infrastructural, emotional and legal aspects of this element without which water would not be what it is for us today. This issue explores some of the ways in which water is profoundly social, both in the sense of being co-produced by social life, and by being a core constituent of it. Some contributions to this issue do this through the examples listed above. Others illustrate the way water positions people and their perspectives. A few show how large water infrastructures reshuffle social lives. And some suggest that water may sometimes be better imagined as a word in the plural, rather than a singular, universal substance.

Editorial team: Franz Krause, Tijo Salverda, Sinah Kloß, Andrea Hollington, Nina Schneider, Oliver Tappe


Above Water – Documentary-in-the-Making by Juan Pablo, Hidalgo-Bastidas, Sytske Susie Jellema, Leontien Cremers, Félix Narváez
Please consult Voices Issue 3/2017 for context information

Spoiled children by Kaleo Sansaa - Please consult Voices Issue 2/2017 for context information

Fishing canals of the Logone Floodplain, Cameroon, by Sarah Laborde, Mouazamou Ahmadou
Please consult Voices Issue 3/2017 for context information