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MC9 Waterscapes

Waterscapes in Transcultural Perspective

Coordination: Marcus Nüsser, Jörg Gengnagel

Abstract

Water in Asia 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 knowledge, political knowledge and sacred knowledge. The Minicluster "Waterscapes in Transcultural Perspective" attempts to trace the circulation and transformation of environmental knowledge fragments and practices across the boundaries of diverse knowledge systems. From the glaciers of the Himalaya to the rivers and water utilization systems of Asia, from the highland Southeast Asia to the ocean surrounding the Indonesian archipelago, the project examines how varied forms of knowledge pertaining to water flow, encounter and entangle with each other. It thereby 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. The project thus does not assume that “objective” understandings of water and glaciers necessarily conflict with related local or cosmological conceptions. Rather, it focuses on the nodes through which certain knowledge items, “facts” and practices travel across cultural boundaries, creating a transcultural network of differentially connected meanings.

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Call for Chapters: Epistemologies of water in Asia

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