My dissertation project, Watershed Metropolis: The Providence River and its Lifeworlds, interweaves history and place-based ethnography to follow a hydrosocial order in flux. From a situated and necessarily partial perspective, I represent the Providence River watershed as an artifact (of infrastructural planning and public works), an embodied experience (of infrastructural legacy and breakdown), and a living, more-than-human assemblage (that exceeds the framing logic of hydraulic governance).
The spirit of the work is one that “yearns against” the prevailing instrumentalist mode of that governance and the experiential sense of disconnection from water that it normalizes.* The motive concern of the project is to articulate an ethics of relation to water, from a settler standpoint, that is interpersonal rather than instrumental; to find what Elizabeth Povinelli calls “ethical terms of relation” that move towards a felt sense of the vital continuity between water and (more-than-human) life.
*see Cleo Wolfe-Hazard, Underflows: Queer Trans Ecologies and River Justice (2022).