Searching for an Applied Anthropology of Water

  • 19 Oct 2023
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Online


Registration is closed

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This talk will be presented online using Zoom. Registration is required before 3:00 pm EST on Thursday October 19, 2023. Log in information for Zoom will be emailed to those who have registered with their registration confirmation as well as by 3:00 pm on Thursday October 19, 2023. If you have not received the link, make certain to check your account's inbox categories, tabs, junk, and spam folder.

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/cIhgdNNaHqI

Date: Thursday October 19, 2023

Location:  Online meeting via Zoom

Time: 7:00 pm EST

Speakers: Matthew Wilfong (Visiting Assistant Professor, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Department of Environmental Studies) and Michael Paolisso (Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, Department of Anthropology)

Title: Searching for an Applied Anthropology of Water

About the Talk: 

Water has been a strong focus of anthropological research due to the complex and inextricable connections we share with water. Previous scholars have described water as a “theory machine” due to its ability to generate new theoretical framings like waterscapes, water regimes, water subjects, and hydrosocial territories. We argue that water is also an “application machine” as its intertwined nature with human societies is always generative of new practical engagements and problems. As a result, we view the anthropology of water as applied, due to its interconnectedness between multiple stakeholders and interests.

We ask ourselves the question: Is there an applied anthropology of water? By raising this question we seek to explore whether the practical engagement of anthropologists within water produces a domain of theory and practice that is different from broader anthropological research on water, which also has many applied currents. We have explored this question in a special issue of Human Organization. In our talk, we will share key findings from this special issue and our current work about what might constitute an applied anthropology of water, including possible pros and cons of demarcating a subdomain of anthropological work on water as applied.


About the Speakers:

Matthew Wilfong is a hydrosocial scientist currently at St Mary’s College of Maryland as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies. His research spans multiple disciplines including political ecology, anthropology, critical geography, and ecohydrology. Previous work has focused on the sociopolitical and ecohydrologic dimensions of stormwater management in the Mid-Atlantic and sociocultural shifts in water conservation and residential landscape choices in the Southwest. 

Michael Paolisso is a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA. From 2021 to 2023 he was the president of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA). He is an environmental anthropologist with research and practice in the Chesapeake Bay region of the United States, focusing coastal communities and climate change, collaborative learning, fisheries and agriculture management, water pollution, environmental restoration, social justice and socio-ecological resilience. He co-founded the collaborative coastal adaptation effort that has become the Deal Island Peninsula Partnership (DIPP).

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