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International Workshop in Indonesia

Oct 12, 2015

Research Group MC9 "Waterscapes" organised an international workshop in collaboration with Hindu University Indonesia in Bali. Under the title "Waterscapes in Bali and Beyond: Shifting Paradigms of Pollution and Purity", scholars from different disciplines discussed concepts and practices of water as a spiritual element. The workshop took place in Denpasar, Indonesia, from September 22-24.

For three days, international and local scholars from a broad variety of disciplines as well as several local actors and practitioners like activists from Balinese NGOs gathered together to discuss about environmental concerns of water especially in the context of water as a spiritual element and its purifying properties. With excellent case studies on the paradigms of purity and pollution, ranging from Europe and India across Indonesia to East Timor, current issues of the Balinese water crisis were framed and set into a broader picture. A dominant topic was the Balinese irrigation system, the subak, and the current perceived threads created by the effects of mass-tourism and the use of agro-chemicals. During a fieldtrip on the second day, discussions with two farmer collectives tied the variety of empirical and theoretical-philosophical approaches again to daily concerns and experiences. The contributions were embedded into lively and controversial discussions which evolved especially around the discrepancy between theoretical ambitions and practical reality of water related practices.

The programme featured a keynote lecture by Prof. Dr. Annette Hornbacher (Heidelberg University) and a Tirta Yatra on the second day.

The workshop was organised by Prof. Dr. Annette Hornbacher and Lea Stepan (MC 9.3) as part of Research Group MC9 "Waterscapes in Transcultural Perspective", headed by Apl. Prof. Jörg Gengnagel and Prof. Dr. Marcus Nüsser. It was held in cooperation with the Hindu University Indonesia from September 22-24 in Denpasar, Bali.

Download the conference poster


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  • Group of participants

  • Gargoyle at Gunung Kawi temple complex (Bali, Tampaksiring, Photo: Gengnagel).

  • "Water Palace, Tirtagangga, Bali" (Wikimedia Commons)