8. Water and the Restless Motion of Environmental Justice across the Americas

Michael Mascarenhas, University of California, Berkeley; Alejandro Ponce De Leon, University of California, Davis;

Contemporary notions of environmental and social justice largely hinge on how we come to think about water in the twenty-first century (Mascarenhas, 2012). Yet, in spite of far-reaching shifts in water management, ownership, use, and availability, water remains a blind spot in science studies discussions of environmental and social justice. Drawing on the recent scholarship in socio-natures and new materialism in STS, this panel aims to explore how the reorganization of water systems, infrastructures, and practices shapes the participation, capacities, and territorial vulnerabilities of 'downstream' participants and stakeholders. By attending to the restless agency of water –as a conceptual and material provocation– the panel will bring together scholars from diverse fields to discuss the social, cultural, and political capacities of water's changing body across the Americas. The goal of this interdisciplinary dialogue is to generate new insights into the complex ways water is shaped and shaping politics. Some possible topics include: How socio-natural interactions with water shape and are shaping environmental policies and legal frameworks. The role of neoliberal water policies across the Americas and the impacts on Indigenous peoples, communities of color, and low-income populations. The impacts of water privation on environmental justice movements and environmental health. The emergence of economic and regulatory agencies and their effects on water environments and their communities. Green energy, water infrastructure, and environmental justice. Cultural meanings and political struggles surrounding water forms in different regions of the Americas, such as the Amazon Basin, the US West, and Central America.

Contact: mascarenhas@berkeley.edu, poncedeleon@ucdavis.edu

Keywords: Environmental/Multispecies Studies, Water, Environmental Justice, Politics

Published: 04/07/2023