ATAseminars: "A Future History of Water, or, How to Wonder with Techno-legal Devices?" by Andrea Ballestero
A Future History of Water, or, How to Wonder with Techno-legal Devices?
Speaker: Andrea Ballestero
Moderation: Z. Umut Türem, Duygu Kaşdoğan
Date and Time: March 26, 2021 | 18:00 TRT; 10:00 CDT
How do people commit to intervening in the future while acknowledging its unruliness? I propose the figure of the techno-legal device as a lively space where we can learn how people constantly negotiate the form of the worlds they want to bring about. In this talk, I will focus briefly on two techno-legal devices: (a) a list of water types produced by Costa Rican congressional representatives while discussing a constitutional reform to recognize water as a public good and a human right, and (b) a formula used by economic regulators to implement the human right to water by attending to its affordability. I propose we think of techno-legal devices as sites where people establish fundamental relations with facts, matter, and politics. As such, I will argue that these devices cultivate a form of politics that can help make a future history of water viable. They establish a series of preconditions that while seemingly inconsequential in the present have the power to set up the conditions for the yet to come.
Andrea Ballestero is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rice University and Director of the Ethnography Studio https://ethnographystudio.org/. Since 2002 she has conducted research in Costa Rica, Brazil, and elsewhere studying how water is defined, distributed, and valued. She is currently writing a book that explores cultural imaginaries of the underground in Costa Rica, focusing on how the emergence of aquifers into the public sphere is expanding the social world downwards into subterranean space. Her previous book A Future History of Water (Duke University Press, 2019) examines the means by which the human right to water is materialized and proposes the notion of a techno-legal device as a site for future-making. She is the co-editor of Experimenting with Ethnography: A Companion to Analysis (Duke University Press 2021). Recent articles include The Anthropology of Water (Annual Review of Anthropology 2019), Touching with Light (Science, Technology and Human Values, 2019), and Learning to Listen to the Underground a co-written experimental audiovisual article that is forthcoming in the journal Sensate. Her works can be found at https://andreaballestero.com/