TA8 is a meeting space for researchers, community authorities, activists, and other actors involved in social struggles who are interested in learning, analyzing and discussing the relationship between water and disasters. We do this within the framework of the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network’s objectives: contributing to the theoretical and methodological debate on water-related research; consolidating an international research network dedicated to the study of the conditions and requirements for sustainable and democratic water management; and contributing to the improvement of the conditions that may allow a greater degree of success at the local level in the achievement of concrete advances in relation to the welfare and well being of human communities.
As a space for dialogue and action, we assume that water-related disasters are multidimensional social processes, never exclusively natural. These disasters are intimately linked with the socio-political, cultural and economic context where they happen and evolve. In this regard, the rain, the water flowing and overflowing through a river bed, the dam that opens its sluice gates to let the repressed waters to flow down, just to give some examples, are amalgamated with a historical, material, symbolic, economic and political production of the urban-rural space and time within which disasters are constructed.
In relation to the above, in TA8 we identify a series of observation angles to ground our intellectual and political observation about how water-related disasters and socially constructed. Among other issues, we observe the construction of large hydraulic works, the forms of ownership and other normative and regulatory elements in relation to water, water uses, public policies directed to the protection against extreme climatic events, or the social mobilizations of groups affected by water-related disasters, etc. We also aim to register and analyze how water is controlled, accumulated, distributed, and relocated, and the consequences of these activities for human populations. Our approach seeks to examine and deepen the discussion about the social construction of disasters and its interrelation with complex scales of social power, in a context of widespread social and juridical inequality and injustice.
The themes and interests of TA8 intersect with those of several Thematic Areas: TA1 X-disciplinarity in Research and Action, TA3 The Urban Water Cycle and Essential Public Services, TA5 Water and Health, and TA6 Hydrosocial Basins, Territories, and Spaces. TA8 has also commonality with the themes covered by TA7, Art, Communication, Culture and Education. In relation to TA7, the fragility in the face of the threats constructed by the ambitions of power groups, the vulnerability of excluded social sectors, and human solidarity triggered by the adversity derived from the impacts of water-related disasters and just some of the themes reflected in paintings, cinema, photography, narrative, and poetry of all times. For all these reasons, TA8 aims to work in close collaboration with the other TAs, taking advantage of the thematic points of intersection.
After these considerations, TA8 seeks to contribute to the theoretical and methodological debate about water-related disasters between members of the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network. We are also interested in contributing to the field of public policy, with the objective of suporting the development of new thinking in the spheres of government administration and civil action to prevent and respond to disasters from a perspective grounded on democracy and the search for social equity.