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University of Exeter (2019)

The Role of Water in Shaping Futures in Rural Kenya : Using a New Materialities Approach to Understand the Co-productive Correspondences Between Bodies, Culture and Water.

Attala, L

Titre : The Role of Water in Shaping Futures in Rural Kenya : Using a New Materialities Approach to Understand the Co-productive Correspondences Between Bodies, Culture and Water.

Auteur : Attala, L

Université de soutenance : University of Exeter

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2019

Résumé
Using mixed methods and multiple sites, this thesis reflects on how water acts as a connective material through which socio-cultural, ritual, economic, and ecological relationships are formed and played out. By adopting a New Materialities approach the brute physicality of relationships is drawn into the foreground to illustrate the agency of materials and people as they co-produce each other together. By focusing on water’s behaviours, this thesis demonstrates that distinctions typically placed between people and other materials are problematic and consequently require reconsideration. Therefore, in rejection of a human exceptionalist focus, this thesis attempts to level the representational ‘playing field’ between bodies and water so as to bring water into discourse as multi-species ethnographies have done for other entities. My research is geographically situated in both rural Wales and an outlying location in the Eastern Coastal Province of Kenya where creeping desertification is increasingly troubling subsistence for a group of Giriama horticultural-pastoralists. It examines the socio-economic, cultural and material consequences of regular piped water flowing into a community that until 2015 relied exclusively on a climatically governed water supply, alongside a series of phenomenological experiences had with water in Wales. I establish the role water plays in co-constructing Giriama authenticity and social life whilst simultaneously producing what can be loosely called an ‘ethnography’ of water. In combination, this thesis demonstrates how the material behaviours of water reveal it to be an active agent that co-produces the materiality, and the behaviours, of being human. The Wenner Gren Foundation supported the fieldwork for this research, under the title The Role of ’New’ Water in Shaping and Regulating Futures in Rural Kenya. Read more at https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository...

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