Spaces of Water: New Paradigms in Ecocritical Enquiry
An international conference on global water systems and cultures of spatiality in India
The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, in association with Venugopal Maddipati (School of Design, Ambedkar University, Delhi) and Sugata Ray (History of Art Department, University of California, Berkeley)
July 24-25, 2014
Seminar Room, First Floor, Library Building, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti Bhawan, New Delhi, India 110011
The reciprocal relationship between global water systems and cultures of spatiality in constituting historical events across time and space has received little attention in ecohistories of India. Spaces of Water: New Paradigms in Ecocritical Enquiry is an attempt to address this opacity in environmental studies by bringing together leading scholars, artists, architects, and activists from India, Europe, and the United States to articulate new forms of ecocritical thinking that reads the cultural as both determining and being determined by the environmental. How does the environment shape, and is shaped by, the ontological domain of affective spatialities? Over two days, speakers will rethink the intersections between water systems and the phenomenology of spatial cultures in early modern, colonial, and contemporary India to explore the topographies of the concept-term waterscape in the wake of environmental histories and ecocriticism more broadly.
It is, indeed, one thing to historicize the way in which water has been contained within tangible spatial volumes. It can be quite another thing to consider the manner in which water contains and is contained by the affective. If the former requires a close analysis of architectural and spatial practices that serve to control, divert, or manage water as a natural resource, the latter necessitates an exploration of the manner in which immaterial but phenomenally conceivable essences imbue water with diverse forms of value. How, then, might we engage with the liquescence of water as simultaneously constituting a ground for living, a demonstrative setting for articulations of sovereignty, as global sites of circulation, and the transmitter of sacrality? How might art history, geography, history, environmental studies, and art and architecture practice collaboratively engender an expanded field of ecocritical enquiry? What kind of trans-disciplinary approaches might such a move entail? Demarcating horizons, systems, thresholds, memory, and processes as thematic frames, Spaces of Water addresses the ways in which technological, representational, and aesthetic acts of envisioning imaginative geographies and flow destabilizes water as only a commodifiable natural resource and a product and effect of environmental governance.
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