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Institute of Advanced Study

IAS Staff

Prof Veronica Strang

Executive Director (Research Leave until April 2019) of the Institute of Advanced Study

Biography

Professor Veronica Strang, IAS Executive Director

Veronica Strang is a cultural anthropologist. Her research focuses on human-environmental relations and people's engagements with land and, in particular, water. Her doctoral work (Oxford 1991-1994) produced a now well-known text, Uncommon Ground: cultural landscapes and environmental values (Berg 1997). From 1994 to 1997 Veronica conducted research at Oxford’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. 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 work with indigenous communities in Cape York. From 2002 she was 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 water users along the Brisbane and Mitchell Rivers, described in Gardening the World; agency, identity, and the ownership of water (Berghahn 2009). The research facilitated the integration of social and natural science research on water issues, and this led to her appointment to the Scientific Advisory Group and then to the Steering Committee of UNESCO's International Ecohydrology Programme.

In 2007 she was awarded an International Water Prize as one of UNESCO's, Les Lumières de L'Eau [Water's Leading Lights] and was subsequently involved in editing a major UNESCO/MAB publication on Water and Cultural Diversity. 

In 2008 Veronica co-convened an international conference in Auckland focused on property relations, and edited, with Mark Busse, an ASA monograph entitled Ownership and Appropriation (Berg 2010). While in New Zealand she also worked with the Maori Council to support indigenous legal claims to freshwater rights.

She first came to the Institute of Advanced Study as a Fellow, during its Water year in 2009. The Fellowship initiated an interdisciplinary project examining religious cosmologies, water beings and different trajectories of human-environmental relationships over time and produced a number of publications, including Water: culture and nature (Reaktion Press 2015). 

Since returning to the UK in 2012, to take up her current post at the IAS, a longstanding interest in interdisciplinarity has led to a major strand of reflexive research in this area. Collaborative work, with representatives of a range of UK funding councils, HEFCE and other interdisciplinary experts, produced Evaluating Interdisciplinary Research: a practical guide (with Tom McLeish, 2015). In 2017 Veronica was appointed to HEFCE’s national Interdisciplinary Advisory Panel. Working with a number of former IAS Light Fellows, she recently completed an experiment in articulating an interdisciplinary conversation, co-editing a volume From the Lighthouse: interdisciplinary reflections on light (Routledge, in press).

From 2013-17, Veronica served as the Chair of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and the Commonwealth. Her recent research includes a project Re-Imagined Communities, which aims to retheorise concepts of sustainability and in 2017 she assisted the United Nations in developing some new Principles for Water. She is currently involved in several projects on water infrastructure, including an international (US-UK) collaboration between anthropologists and engineers.

During research leave from October 2017 to early 2019, she will be working on these projects, and a major comparative text about water beings.

Research Interests

  • Environmental anthropology
  • Materiality
  • Water
  • Interdisciplinarity

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Strang, V. (2017). Justice for All: inconvenient truths and reconciliation in human-non-human relations. In Routledge International Handbook of Environmental Anthropology. Kopnina, H. & Shoreman-Ouimet, E. London, New York: Routledge. 259-275.
  • Strang, V. (2017). The Gaia Complex: bioethical challenges to an anthropocentric ‘common future'. In Anthropological Visions of Sustainable Futures. London, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Strang, V. (2016). Re-imagined Communities: a new ethical approach to water policy. In The Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy. Conca, C. & Weinthal, E. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Strang, V. (2015). Reflecting Nature: water beings in history and imagination. In Waterworlds: anthropology in fluid environments. Hastrup, K. & Hastrup, F. Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books. 247-278.
  • Strang, V. (2013). Conceptual Relations: water, ideologies, and theoretical subversions. In Thinking With Water. Chen, C., Macleod, J. & Neimanis, A. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press. 185-211.
  • Strang, V. (2013). Dam Nation: Cubbie Station and the waters of the Darling. In The Social Life of Water in a Time of Crisis. Wagner, J. Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books. 36-60.
  • Strang, V. (2012). Diverting Water: cultural plurality and public water features in an urban environment. In Water, Cultural Diversity and Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures?. Johnston, B., Hiwasaki, L., Klaver, I., Ramos-Castillo, A. & Strang, V. Paris, Dordrecht, New York: Springer and UNESCO. 97-116.
  • Strang, V. (2012). Extremely Private: water trading and the commoditization of water. In Water, Cultural Diversity and Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures?. Johnston, B., Hiwasaki, L., Klaver, I., Ramos-Castillo, A. & Strang, V. Paris, Dordrecht, New York: Springer and UNESCO. 257-260.
  • Strang, V. (2012). Water, Land and Territory. In A Handbook of Social Anthropology. Fardon, R., Harris, O., Marchand, T., Nuttall, M., Shore, C., Strang, V. & Wilson, R. London: Sage. 312-328.
  • Strang, V. (2011). Elusive Forms: materiality and cultural diversity in the ownership of water. In Property Rights and Sustainability: the evolution of property rights to meet ecological challenges. Grinlinton, D. & Taylor, P. Leiden: Brill | Nijhoff. 195-218.
  • Strang, V. (2011). Fluid Forms: owning water in Australia. In Ownership and Appropriation. Busse, M. & Strang, V. Berg. 171-195.
  • Busse, M. & Strang, V. (2011). Introduction. In Ownership and Appropriation. ASA Monographs. Oxford, New York: Berg. 1-20.
  • Strang, V. (2010). Mapping histories cultural landscapes and walkabout methods. In Environmental Social Sciences: Methods and Research Design. Vaccaro, I., Smith, E.A. & Aswani, S. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 132-156.
  • Strang, V. (2009). Water and Indigenous Religion: Aboriginal Australia. In The Idea of Water. Tvedt, T. & Oestigaard, T. London: I.B Tauris. 343-377.
  • Strang, V. (2009). Water in Aboriginal Australia. In Ideas of Water from Ancient Societies to the Modern World. Tvedt, T. & Oestigaard, T. London: I.B Tauris. 1: 343-377.
  • Strang, V. (2009). Water Sports: a tug-of-war over the river. In Tourism Power and Culture: anthropological perspectives. Carrier, J. & Macleod, D. Bristol: Channel View Press. 27-46.
  • Strang, V (2008). Commentary. In River Journeys. Scheibenbogen, Silvia Brisbane: International RiverFoundation. 51.
  • Strang, V. (2008). Introduction. In Water Ways: competition and communality in the use and management of water. Strang, V. & Toussaint, S. Special Issue of Oceania. 78: 1-4.
  • Strang, V. & Garner, A. (2006). Introduction. In Fluidscapes: water, identity and the senses. Strang, V. & Garner, A. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands. 10: 147-154.

Edited book

  • Strang, V., Edensor, T. & Puckering, J. (Forthcoming). From the Lighthouse: interdisciplinary reflections on light. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Strang, V. (2016). Transforming the Way We Think. Durham: Durham University: Institute of Advanced Study.
  • Fardon, R., Harris, O., Marchand, T., Nuttall, M., Shore, C., Strang, V. & Wilson, R. (2012). Handbook of Social Anthropology. SAGE Publications/Association of Social Anthropologists of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, London: Sage.
  • Johnston, B., Hiwasaki, L., Klaver, I., Ramos-Castillo, A. & Strang, V. (2012). Water, Cultural Diversity & Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures?. Paris, Dordrecht, New York: Springer and UNESCO.
  • Strang, V. & Busse, M. (2011). Ownership and Appropriation. ASA Monographs (Association of Social Anthropologists Monographs ). Oxford & New York: Berg Publishers.

Edited Journal

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Strang, V. (2008). Owning Water. The University of Auckland News 5.
  • Strang, V. (2008). Privatisation of Assets Never Cut and Dry. New Zealand Herald 13.

Other (Print)

Report

  • Strang, V. (2017). Valuing the Cultural and Spiritual Dimensions of Water. Report to the United Nations High-Level Panel on Water.
  • Strang, V. (2012). Comparative International Claims to Water and Water Management by Indigenous Peoples. Advisory report for Waitangi Tribunal on behalf of New Zealand Maori Council and other claimants, WAI 2357, WAI 2358, New Zealand.
  • Strang, V. (2007). A Conceptual Framework for UNESCO’s Ecohydrology Programme: Paper prepared for Scientific Advisory Committee, UNESCO International Ecohydrology Programme.
  • Strang, V. (2007). A Conceptual Framework for UNESCO’s Ecohydrology Programme. Paper prepared for Scientific Advisory Committee, UNESCO International Ecohydrology Programme.
  • Strang, V. (2006). Social Ecohydrology: integrating the social and natural sciences, Research Paper prepared for Scientific Advisory Committee, UNESCO International Ecohydrology Programme.
  • Strang, V. (2006). Social Ecohydrology: integrating the social and natural sciences. Research Paper prepared for Scientific Advisory Committee, UNESCO International Ecohydrology Programme.

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Contact Details

Institute of Advanced Study
Durham University
Cosin's Hall
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Durham 
DH1 3RL
Telephone: +44 (0)191 334 2589
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