TA1 – X-disciplinarity in Research and Action


AT1 seeks to contribute to the theoretical and methodological aspects of the production of knowledge about water oriented by the Network’s Objectives and Research Priorities. We use the term X-disciplinarity to stimulate individual and collective critical reflection about the processes of knowledge production that we are engaged with. On the one hand, we are interested in questioning the concrete meaning of the many prefixes that we have accumulated in our search to transcend disciplinary enclosures: cross, inter, multi, trans, even posdisciplinarity, among many others. Not only there is an overpopulation of these terms, but also they are subject to diverse definitions, often rival and mutually incompatible. In this sense, we use “X-disciplinarity” to provoke ourselves to think with greater precision about our academic practices in research, in teaching, and related activities. More importantly, we do it to press ourselves to leave the comfort zone of our individual disciplinary spaces, which tend to operate as stovepipes, often with sterilizing effect, and to stimulate ourselves to contribute towards the development of forms of knowledge production oriented by the principles of complexity and relational, dialogical thinking, in the search to overcome the fragmentation of knowledge and promote a greater re-integration of the sciences. On the other hand, we speak of X-disciplinarity to acknowledge the fact that scientific knowledge must establish a dialogue with other forms of knowledge production that take place outside of the academic space, as postulated in some definitions of “transdisciplinarity”. This involves the interrelation with diverse actors that produce knowledge over water, something that we practice in our Network as our members include researchers, teachers, and students in different stages of their careers, public sector specialists, members of labour unions, user organizations, and public and community water utilities, among others. Not only our Network’s water-related research topics are highly amenable to the adoption of this approach, but in fact we believe that the dialogue of knowledges is a fundamental requisite for our work. This is particularly important to generate forms of knowledge and action that may contribute to the development of social forms of control, government, and distribution of water and water-related services grounded on the principles of equality, inclusion, and substantive, material, not merely rhetorical democracy. These concerns have inspired our work and received central attention since the First International Meeting of our Network, “The Political Ecology of Water in Latin America: defining a research strategy”, that took place on 14-16 October 2009 at the Catalonian Water Agency, and was co-organized with our partners of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Barcelona, Spain. One of the main sessions of this event was titled “The Political Ecology of Water in X-Disciplinary Perspective”. This approach has informed our network’s activities.

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