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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Professor Veronica Strang

Executive Director

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 44684
Fax: +44 (0) 191 3344699

Professor Veronica Strang

Veronica Strang is a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on human-environmental relations and people's engagements with land, resources and in particular water. From 1994 to 1997 she worked as a researcher at Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute, while also teaching at the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology. In 1997 she took up a post at the University of Wales, and began a project examining water issues in the UK. Based on ethnographic research along the River Stour in Dorset, her book, The Meaning of Water (Berg 2004), considers how the symbolic meanings encoded in water affect patterns of water use and attitudes to water conservation.

In 2000 Veronica was awarded a Royal Anthropological Institute Fellowship in Urgent Anthropology, and returned to Australia to examine indigenous communities' efforts to negotiate access to land and resources. For the last decade she has been based in New Zealand, initially as Head of the School of Social Sciences at Auckland University of Technology, then (from 2005) as a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Auckland. With an Australian Research Council Discovery Award (2003-2007), she conducted research with diverse groups of water users along the Brisbane and Mitchell Rivers. The project's ethnographic focus on river catchments was also designed to facilitate the integration of social and natural science research on water issues. This led to her appointment to the Scientific Advisory Group and then to the Steering Committee of UNESCO's International Ecohydrology Programme, and in 2007 she was awarded an International Water Prize as one of UNESCO's, Les Lumières de L'Eau [Water's Leading Lights]. More recently she has been involved in another UNESCO/MAB programme on Water and Cultural Diversity.

In 2008 Veronica co-convened an international conference in Auckland focused on property relations, and co-edited, with Mark Busse, an ASA monograph entitled Ownership and Appropriation (Berg 2010). She conducted related research as a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Durham in 2009, while also developing, in collaboration with Australian colleagues (including former IAS Fellow Andy Baker), an interdisciplinary project aiming to integrate ethnographic, ecological and hydrological data in river catchments.

Veronica's current research includes some theoretical work with an interdisciplinary UK-Canadian team on Thinking With Water, and a collaboration with another UK-Canadian group on materiality and the anthropology of resources. Also emerging from her Fellowship in Durham in 2009 is a broader, internationally comparative and interdisciplinary project examining religious cosmologies, water beings and the long-term development of diverse human-environmental trajectories over time. Alongside this ongoing research, she is in the process of completing a short book for Reaktion Press, on the cultural history of water.