Luisa Cortesi

Doctoral CandidateYale University

Award Information

2013 IDRF Program

AnthropologyYale University

Living in Floods: Knowledge(s) and Technologies of Disastrous Water in North Bihar, India

How do people in rural north Bihar, India, live and make sense of water in a landscape periodically destroyed by floods? The proposed study draws on disaster studies, environmental anthropology and science and technology studies to trace how water-related knowledge(s) are deployed in everyday practices, and mediated by technologies, in a frequently flooded environment where people live in, and often die from, water. This query enables an ethnographic perspective on wider debates about human knowledge and adaptation in conditions of rapid environmental change and specifically on the ways in which rural inhabitants react to environmental disasters drawing on cultural resources such as local knowledge and networks, as well as technologies of water management. The proposed ethnography combines an epistemological analysis of life in a disastrous waterscape with the close observation of pragmatic responses to waterborne disasters to reveal complex forms of articulation between dynamic ecologies, water-related practices, environmental knowledges, and technological choices.