On the 6th of July we celebrated the PhD defense of Lena Hommes, researcher in the Riverhood and River Commons projects, who graduated with a cum laude.
In her PhD project “Infrastructure Lives. Water, Territories, and Transformations in Turkey, Peru and Spain”, Lena analysed processes and discussions surrounding the envisioning, construction and contestation of hydraulic infrastructure and connected territorial reconfigurations in Turkey, Peru and Spain. Her central research question is: How are diverging visions and imaginaries about the shaping of hydrosocial territories through large-scale hydraulic infrastructure (dams, water transfers and hydropower plants) in Turkey, Peru and Spain promoted, realized and contested or accepted; and with what effects?
The committee, consisting of Prof Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester), Prof Tom Perreault (University of Syracuse), Prof Edward Huijbens (WUR) and Prof Diana Suhardiman (Leiden University), together with the external referees, unanimously qualified the thesis and the oral defence as “excellent”.
The dissertation, supervised by Prof Boelens and Dr Esha Shah (WASS, ESG-WRM), is based on five peer-reviewed articles published in top journals, and 9 publications closely connected. The committee comments that the dissertation also has high social importance: “…the candidate has done the research compassionately, driven not only by desire to know and understand, but also by a strong sense of societal and scientific responsibilities...”. The supervisors explain that the candidate makes hydraulic infrastructure visible, revealing its hidden power and exclusionary practices, opening technological black boxes to allow for public debate and democratic decision-making: “out of the hands of a few technical experts and elites”.
Altogether, the committee and referees summarized that: “taken as a whole, this is an outstanding dissertation. The research is rigorous and of very high quality, and surpasses all standards for social scientific research”.
Interested to learn more about this topic? You can visit the movingrivers website or engage with Dr. Lena Hommes in the afternoon dialogue on August 30. Dr. Lena Hommes and novelist Frank Westerman (‘To true to be good’) will debate their books in the public seminar “Dam dreams and river rewilding: Ideals in dispute” in Impulse, campus WUR.