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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

IAS Staff

Publication details for Professor Veronica Strang

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.

Author(s) from Durham


Focusing on water as a connective material flow, this chapter reconsiders notions of community, agency, and identity from the perspective of contemporary debates on ecological ethics and relationality. By articulating the fluid relationships between humans, nonhumans, and the material world, these debates critique dominant conceptual assumptions about Nature and Culture as separate domains. Such assumptions continue to underpin water policy and management, casting ecosystems—and their dependent species—as the subjects of human action, with generally poor outcomes for their well-being. The chapter draws on actor-network theory, philosophical ideas about ethics, and analyses of materiality to propose a re-imagined model of “community” that reintegrates the human and nonhuman, and opens up the potential for more reciprocal—and thus more sustainable—human‒environmental relationships. In doing so, it proposes a new kind of “participatory” framework for water policy development.

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Institute of Advanced Study
Durham University
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