In this episode you will meet Veronica Strang, who is a professor of anthropology currently affiliated with Oxford University. Her research focuses on human-environmental relations, and in particular, societies’ engagements with water, encompassing conflicts over ownership and governance; cultural beliefs and values; human and non-human rights; and people´s sensory and cognitive interactions with water. Veronica’s main ethnographic research has been conducted in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, and apart from publishing an impressive number of academic books and articles on the topic of water, she has consulted and worked with people from the water industry, the UN, and UNESCO, just to mention a few.
We talk with Veronica about her more recent work on water beings. After describing what a water being is, Veronica unfolds how thinking with and through these creatures can illuminate culturally specific and historically changing human-environmental relations. We talk about how water beings can be used as a narrative device for criticising a sharp nature/culture divide and how they can provide alternative models for relating to nature and responding to the current environmental crisis. Finally, Veronica touches upon the comparative and co-authoring nature of anthropology.
Books referred to in the podcast:
- Water Beings: From Nature Worship to the Environmental crisis (Reaktion Books, 2023)
- The Meaning of Water (Routledge, 2004)
- Gardening the world: agency, identity, and the ownership of water (Berghahn Books, 2009)