On Monday 24 October 2022, Rutgerd Boelens was invited by ICTA Autonomous University of Barcelona to come to Catalonia and give a Public Conference with keynote presentation and debate, sharing his ideas with ICTA-UAB researchers and students while looking for synergies and collaborative initiatives.
Part of the Riverhood thematic fields, the presentation focused on discussing the central notions of the recent, collaborative paper “Riverhood: political ecologies of socionature commoning and translocal struggles for water justice”, just published in The Journal of Peasant Studies, among a large number of academic partners. The keynote addressed, first, how mega-dams, pollution and water depletion have endangered the world’s rivers; how modernist imaginaries of colonizing and ordering “rebellious waters and peoples” have become powerful cornerstones of hydraulic-bureaucratic and techno-capitalist development; and how these imaginaries simultaneously separate ecological and social worlds, marginalize river cultures and deepen socio-environmental injustices. Next, Rutgerd reflected on how, recently, countless new water justice movements (NWJMs) have proliferated around the world: entrenched, disruptive, transdisciplinary and multi-scalar coalitions that deploy diverse alternative ontologies of river/fluvial society, challenge South-North and human-nature divides, translate and hybridize river enlivening notions and practices from local to global and vice versa, and claim for environmental justice. The presentation further discussed a transdisciplinary framework for conceptualizing “riverhood” with the aim of learning from and engaging with NWJMs and river commoning initiatives. This framework (see paper) suggests four interrelated ontological core windows that situate fluvial socionatures as arenas of material, social and symbolic co-production: ‘river-as-ecosociety’, ‘river-as-territory’, ‘river-as-subject’; and ‘river-as-movement’. The presentation and the subsequent public debate thereby discussed the ways of crossing the political and conceptual fields of governmentality, hydrosocial territories, onto-epistemological arenas and multi-scale movements, in order to come to a shared action research framework and alliance for socio-environmental and water justice.
The paper’s reference and full contents:
Boelens, R., A. Escobar, K. Bakker, L. Hommes, E. Swyngedouw, B. Hogenboom, E.H. Huijbens, S. Jackson, J. Vos, L.M. Harris, K.J. Joy, F. de Castro, B. Duarte-Abadía, D. Tubino de Souza, H. Lotz-Sisitka, N. Hernández-Mora, J. Martínez-Alier, D. Roca-Servat, T. Perreault, C. Sanchis-Ibor, D. Suhardiman, A. Ulloa, A. Wals, J. Hoogesteger, J.P. Hidalgo-Bastidas, T. Roa-Avendaño, G.J. Veldwisch, P. Woodhouse & K.M. Wantzen (2022) Riverhood: political ecologies of socionature commoning and translocal struggles for water justice, The Journal of Peasant Studies, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03066150.2022.2120810