By Juliana Forigua Sandoval | Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University
In this Riverside meeting, we met to share, discuss and reflect on future imaginaries of rivers based on Lotte de Jong’s (PhD Researcher/River Commons) research proposal titled “Climate change adaptation under multiple interpretations of reality”. Lotte argued that climate change adaptations have influenced river management and that diverse future imaginaries co-exist and are contested in the discourse and political activity of water governance (Davoudi & Machen, 2021). She will work on the Meuse River (The Netherlands) and the Magdalena River (Colombia). During the presentation, the researcher discussed provocative ideas regarding numerical models, infrastructures and negotiations of different imaginaries in participatory modeling practices. Finally, Lotte closed her presentation by highlighting the importance of deconstructing river models to identify the power relations that are embedded in these processes.
Several ideas, concepts and questions emerged from the presentation. From the discussion, I will highlight three aspects that I consider the most relevant: the criticism of the models used on climate change adaptation projects, the role of the future, and the reflections on the fishing communities of Magdalena River. Regarding the models, we discussed that they bring with them knowledge claims that justify and validate infrastructure interventions. Although the models are presented as objective tools, they are formulated with concrete interests and are part of power-knowledge relations. Climate change models are ideal tools for understanding or studying the future, i.e., the projections, dreams, and ideas that decision-makers have about the future and the hegemonic discourses that are imbricated in such projections (Marien, 2010). Finally, we discussed the case of the Magdalena River and the fishing communities that are of special interest to the researcher, in order to analyze imaginaries that contest hegemonic visions about the river and the future (Jaramillo & Carmona, 2022). Specifically, we discuss the complexity of the fishing communities, their micropolitics, and the social intersections of the different social groups that compose such communities. We conclude that it is necessary to not essentialize communities and to be open to understanding them from their disparities, differences, and internal particularities.
Jaramillo, P., & Carmona, S. (2022). Temporal enclosures and the social production of inescapable futures for coal mining in Colombia. Geoforum, 130, 11-22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2022.01.010
Davoudi, S., & Machen, R. (2021). Climate imaginaries and the mattering of the medium. Geoforum. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2021.11.003
Marien, M. (2010). Futures-thinking and identity: Why “Futures Studies” is not a field, discipline, or discourse: a response to Ziauddin Sardar’s ‘the namesake’. Futures, 42(3), 190-194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2009.11.003