Shaping the Flow: Anthropological Encounters with Water Typologies

Knowledge/Culture/Ecologies International Conference

November 15-18, 2017 - Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago - Chile.

Convenor: Noah Walker-Crawford (Manchester University)


Water forms many aspects of social life – as a vital resource, a threat or a non-human being. Defining water is often a contested process relating to social notions of value and what it means to have a dignified life. This panel explores water typologies in times of accelerated environmental change.

In times of global climate change, water-related issues become increasingly central in preparing for continuously unprecedented environmental shifts. Water takes many shapes as it flows across the globe – rivers lead to oceans; clouds turn to rain; glaciers recede to produce mountain lakes. Scientists, state authorities and citizens try to shape these flows by capturing water in distinct conceptual categories: as vital substance for human life, as a mortal threat through flooding, or as a social being that lives among humans. Yet water in various typologies is growing increasingly more ambiguous and unstable. These categories are often central to public discussions about how people should engage with a shifting environment and how we should value life and the world around us. Building on discussions in anthropology and related disciplines on the social significance of water and flow, this panel involves ethnographic contributions on social engagements with water as it moves and changes form among diverse environments.

Discussant: Javier Taks (UNESCO Chair for Water and Culture, Universidad de la República, Uruguay)

We invite papers and other types of presentations on anthropological encounters with water typologies in any context or location.


The call for papers and media work closes 26 May, 2017. For further details,

please email Or submit directly via the

online submission form

Noah Walker-Crawford

PhD Candidate

Manchester University

Contact Info

Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
c/o Karli Whitmore
125 rue Jean de la Londe, #301
Baie d'Urfe (Québec) H9X 3T8