River-as-Subject scrutinizes how rivers are approached as moral, legal, and political subjects. While hydrocracies intend to ontologically and materially construct and align the objects and subjects to be governed, communities react and challenge this. People claim voice and rights as subjects — for themselves and for nature. Civil organizations and new water justice movements engaged in co-governance of river commons ask for a vital change in how we socially approach, politically govern, and legally treat rivers. From nature as an object of law and human possession to a being that is a subject that is horizontally interwoven with our lives. With “Rights of Nature” approaches, riverhoods gain strong importance on the political agenda. It acknowledges that “nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist and regenerate its vital cycle”1.
The main question within this dimension is:
In what ways do formal and vernacular water epistemologies approach or represent rivers as moral, legal and political subjects; and how are ‘rights of nature’ translated into context-particular governance projects?
1 GARN – Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (2020). therightsofnature.org