Flooding Water and Society

Alejandro Camargo, Luisa Cortesi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

As social scientists of water, we need to keep evaluating the analytical tools we use. Through the example of floods, we here develop a critique of one of those tools, the hydrosocial cycle framework, in order to expand our conceptualizations of water. The hydrosocial cycle is a re-elaboration of the classical hydrological cycle which explicitly politicizes and denaturalizes the study of hydrological systems. In political ecology, such a conceptual framework has been pivotal to the understanding of how water circulates in society through a complex web of power relations, economic structures, and processes that are at the same time spatial and historical. But when we deploy this concept to examine floods, a number of limitations emerge. In this article, we formulate three specific theses which focus on those limitations: (a) an overemphasis on society, (b) a lack of attention to ecology and, more generally the relationships between water and other nonhuman elements and processes, and (c) a heuristic overreliance on the metaphors of flow and cycle. In developing these three theses, we discern alternative paths of analysis to conceptualize floodwaters at a time when these events increasingly constitute a significant threat to humans and nonhumans alike. Our hope is that this critique will also contribute to broader interdisciplinary debates about water and society. This article is categorized under: Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Human Water > Water Governance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1374
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water
Volume6
Issue number5
Early online date7 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding information
Université de Montréal; Cornell University;
Yale University

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Research programs

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