#52 Veronica Strang – Water beings, human-nature relations, & the environmental crisis

Hør afsnittet

Welcome to Regnfang’s co-publication of the Anthropology on Air podcast. A podcast created and published in collaboration with the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen. Each episode features interviews with social sciences researchers on topics related to the ways in which our human mind and life is entangled with the communities of ideas and beings with whom we live.

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.

The podcast was recorded in late May 2023 when Veronica was in Bergen to give a presentation at the Bergen Social Anthropology Seminar (BSAS).

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)

Host and production: Sidsel Marie

Music: Victor Lange