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Workshop on the Epistemologies of Water in Asia

11. Dez. 2014

"Epistemologies of Water in Asia” was the topic of a workshop organised by Dr. Ravi Baghel on behalf of the interdisciplinary research group "Waterscapes", which is part of research area C "Knowledge Systems".  The event took place at the Karl Jaspers Centre from December 13 to 14, 2014.

All over Asia, water is subject to a great variety of knowledge systems and practices. Some of these appear to be linked to particular spaces – when associated with specific local cultures or religions – while others are structured by functional and symbolic differentiations, like expert, political or sacred knowledge. This workshop focused on attempts to trace the circulation and transformation of environmental knowledge fragments and practices across the boundaries of diverse knowledge systems. The participants examined how varied forms of knowledge pertaining to water flow, encounter and entangle with each other. This also questions the epistemological status of water as a mere resource. Particularly in Asia, well-tested practices surrounding water and ice are often inseparable from ritual or cosmological symbolism and performance. Therefore, it should not be assumed that the latter necessarily conflict with "objective" understandings of water and glaciers. Hence, this workshop rather focused on the nodes through which certain knowledge items, “facts” and practices travel across cultural boundaries, thereby creating a transcultural network of differentially connected meanings.

Primarily directed at graduate students, postdocs and early career researchers, the workshop discussed topics such as the interaction between expert and local knowledge of water, the sacredness of rivers and glaciers, the role of knowledge in water conservation, ethnology of knowledge practitioners, Hydropower between the local and the global, politics of water knowledge, natural hazards and risk reduction in the context of water, and the Anthropocene framing of Himalayan water systems. Eighteen participants from all over the world working in different research settings in Asia converged in the Cluster to discuss their shared focus on the Epistemology of Water.

The two days workshop was organised by Dr. Ravi Baghel on behalf of the interdisciplinary research group MC9 "Waterscapes in Transcultural Perspective" coordinated by Prof. Dr. Marcus Nüsser and Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel. The Minicluster attempts to trace the circulation and transformation of environmental knowledge fragments and practices across the boundaries of diverse knowledge systems.

Dr. Ravi Baghel is a postdoctoral researcher working in the Project MC 9.1 "Himalayan Glaciers". His current research examines the production of Himalayan glaciers as sources of environmental knowledge. Dr. Baghel obtained his PhD in Geography from Heidelberg University in 2013. He was part of the first generation of the GPTS, and was associated with the project C2 "Large Dams" in the Cluster's first funding period. Among other publications, he recently published the book "River Control in India: Spatial, Governmental and Subjective Dimensions". 

Further information:

Poster announcing the workshop (PDF Format)
List of participants and presentations (PDF format)


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