Water Flourishing in the Anthropocene
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What does it entail to foreground water flourishing as a stance toward the Anthropocene? During an exercise at the Anthropocene Campus Melbourne, about twenty participants individually drew images of ‘water flourishing’ leading, with only one or two exceptions of Edenic representations, to a wall of images depicting no humans. That small experience reproduced a larger cultural and environmental management configuration: people-less water flourishing. If we face such constraints in imagining, representing, and enacting hydro-flourishing, we remain stuck in familiar loops either of: 1) elemental thinking that excludes the human; or 2) anthropocenic thinking that too often addresses the human primarily as destroyer. How do we imagine our being with water in different ways? How do we move away from pervasive narratives of water crisis without, at the same time, romancing water? Feminist, decolonial, and Indigenous approaches to water and its cultural politics ask us to consider the elemental not only in substance, but also in rights regimes and in the project of flourishing. In this paper, we present examples of water flourishing projects and impasses from three sites: Kathmandu, Nepal; Perth, Australia; and the Florida Everglades, United States. All show both the problems and the promise of co-centering the human and nonhuman in their interdependent relations when it comes to water flourishing.
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