As suggested by the title, TA7 brings together four large thematic sub areas, Art, Communication, Culture, and Education, drawing on the Network’s objectives and research priorities related to water politics and management, and associated topics. TA7 is specifically dedicated to the themes covered in these sub areas.
Firstly, it focuses on artistic representations and the role of art in water-related themes that fall within our Network’s remit, including literature, music, painting, cinema, theatre, and other forms. Secondly, TA7 addresses the study of the forms of communication dealing with water-related problems, as well as the development of communication strategies. Among other issues, we observe how over the last few decades the dominant forms of communication have semantically, discursively, and politically installed certain themes that have become common sense, such as the general notion of “water scarcity”, closely related to the notion of “water crisis”. These and similar concepts are generally understood almost exclusively as a “natural” or “technical-administrative” problem, leaving aside the fundamentally political character of both “scarcity” and “crisis” in relation to water issues.
Thirdly, TA7 also deals with cultural aspects, such as customs and traditions, “water cultures”, some of which are as ancient as the human species, and their relationship with processes of socio-ecological transformation. Our interest includes the strengthening of cultural forms grounded on the principles of water as a common or public good, the access to water as a right, and egalitarian, democratic, inclusive, solidary, and sustainable water use. We are also committed to opposing the advance of individualistic, exclusionary cultural forms that tend to reduce the access to water to that of a private good, a commodity, a vehicle for the accumulation of private profit. These cultural forms also contribute to aggravating existing levels of unsustainability, with frequently irreversible effects on water sources and living beings.
Finally, and fourthly, TA7 studies the educational dimension. It contributes to the elaboration of a critique of established forms of knowledge that tend to reproduce dominant cultures, traditions and practices in relation to water. In this regard, we produce and disseminate educational contents and techniques oriented at reversing the conditions of vulnerability and defencelessness affecting human populations in relation to water. Among other issues, we focus on the existing inequalities and injustices in the access to water and water-based services that are necessary for dignified life, or the protection against threats and dangers derived from climatic events and from the negative effects of the prevailing forms of water politics and management.
From another angle, TA7 is cross-cutting given that it has a strong interconnection with the themes of the other Thematic Areas of our Network. The themes covered by the other TAs are crossed by the artistic, communicational, cultural, and educational dimensions, which are often foundational of the issues addressed by the ATs. Thus, TA7, jointly with TA1 – X-disciplinarity in Research and Action, constitute strategic Thematic Areas, which contribute to the elaboration of integrative forms of knowledge aimed at overcoming disciplinary enclosures and attaining higher levels of inter and transdisciplinary coordination, promoting dialogues between diverse forms of knowing.
Selected themes addressed by TA7 members:
- Studies on the discourses and representations of water in the arts: cinema, literature, music, theatre, etc.
- Our own artistic production about water-related topics, in cinema, literature, music, theatre, etc.
- Critical studies about the approaches to water problems prevailing in mass communication
- Production of contents over water topics, for dissemination by diverse means of communication
- Studies about collective and individual cultural expressions connected with water topics
- Production of critical cultural expressions about water topics
- Critical studies about the discursive approaches to water topics in didactic and para-didactic materials used in all educational levels
- Elaboration of educational contents and strategies related to water and environmental topics for all educational levels
- Critical studies of educational contents and practices in public and civil society institutions in charge of different aspects of water politics and management (ministries, water utilities, workers unions, etc.)
- Joint elaboration of educational contents and practices with public bodies, community and workers’ unions organizations, etc.