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Fortney Farm in Soldiers Grove. Image courtesy of Tim Hundt

Storying the Floods: Experiments in Feminist Flood Futures

Life in Wisconsin’s Kickapoo River and Coon Creek watersheds, the focus of our Driftless work, has been punctuated by major floods in 2007, 2008, 2016, 2017, and the worst in recorded history in 2018. As flooding becomes more frequent and more severe across these watersheds, community members are working together to re-imagine ways to live well together with worsening floods.

Defensoras and allies on retreat in Celendín. Image courtesy of Natalia Guzmán Solano.

Formless Like Water: Defensoras and the Work of Water Protection

In this article, I write about defensoras del agua y medio ambiente, water and environmental defenders: the women participating in an anti-extractivist struggle in northern Peru, defending water against the expansion of a large-scale mining operation in Celendín’s headwaters which mobilized a social movement against state and corporate forces attempting to expand the Yanacocha mine to nearby territory.

Women working at a laundry site at Ch'onggye Stream, circa 1930s.

Women and Urban Waterways in Korean Modernist Literature

Pak T’ae-wŏn’s 1938 modernist novel Scenes from Ch’ŏnggye Stream (Ch’ŏnbyŏn p’unggyŏng, 천변풍경) is one thought-provoking example of these human-environment relationships in literature.  Scenes from Ch’ŏnggye Stream provides an intimate portrayal of ordinary life for lower-class Koreans living along the Ch’ŏnggye Stream in a rapidly urbanizing and modernizing 1930s Seoul under Japanese occupation; it reveals how environmental, social, and political factors can mingle together to influence urban river environments and culture.

Detail From Figure 8. Point Hudson, a well-known camping spot for Indigenous individuals who were traveling to hop fields in search of work. Image courtesy of Alexandra Peck.

Mariners, Makers, Matriarchs: Changing Relationships Between Coast Salish Women & Water

Historically, Coast Salish female identity depended upon water. Waterways provided women with countless economic opportunities, fostered family ties, created plentiful food sources, and encouraged female autonomy. Even as female maritime practices changed drastically throughout the pre-colonial and colonial periods, Coast Salish women imagined new ways to maintain connections to water.

Harris County flood rescue. Image by Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD/Texas Military Department.

Floodplains and Hurricanes: Mapping Natural Disasters to Uncover Vulnerable Communities

Using GIS mapping, I can identify at-risk communities most impacted by water-related natural disasters in the Houston Metropolitan Area (HMA), which is highly susceptible to hurricanes, tropical storms, and excessive flooding. Geospatial analysis reveals that at-risk communities are not randomly distributed throughout the HMA; populations like women and children are at higher risk of disproportionate outcomes during flooding events.

Kenyan women carry water buckets filled with water on their heads during World Water Day after fetching the water at one of the illegal freshwater points in Mathare slums in Nairobi, Kenya, 22 March 2019. International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of highlighting the importance of freshwater and its management. The theme for the World Water Day In 2019 is 'Leaving no one behind', highlighting whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right. EPA-EFE/Daniel Irungu.

Time and Trauma

Through interviews, surveys and focus group discussions with 258 households in Mathare during 2016 and 2017, I found that women faced huge challenges and trauma in collecting water. Besides the woes of finding a running tap and wasting valuable time waiting in queues, procuring water entails physical hardship that often leads to mental agony that sometimes even threatens the women’s safety.

Mississippi River Fugues, collage of video stills, Margaret Cogswell, 2008. Image courtesy of Ed West.

RIVER FUGUES

What is it to “know” rivers? As an artist I have been asking myself this question for over twenty years. Ever since an artist residency in Cleveland, Ohio led to my encountering the burning river history of the Cuyahoga River, I realized that all rivers have stories, and to learn of their histories was to explore and listen. In this essay, I will focus on my research on different rivers, sharing the meandering paths which have led me to explore these rivers and my creative responses to them in the form of mixed-media art installations that seek to reflect the complex relationships between land, water, and peoples. To contextualize the impetus for what developed into an ongoing series of River Fugues projects, I will offer some personal history. Although I was born in the United States (in Memphis, Tennessee along the Mississippi River), I went to Japan with my parents when I was 18 months old and lived there until I was 13 years old…

Fig. 1, The Kākā Reserve reflected in the Awataha Stream. Video still from ‘Re-Generation’ 2019. Image courtesy of Laura Donkers.

(Re)connecting Community to the Awataha Stream

Our modern ways of living have created an environmental crisis that threatens the very survival of humans and many other species. Yet awareness of this situation, though it may create an urgent sense of responsibility and even guilt, does not necessarily translate into action to change our ways. A narrative of “ecological disaster” can alert the public to the need for action, but the scale of the crisis and lack of wisdom to act can be overwhelming.[2] So how can communities become motivated to respond?…