Panel no. 42 - Anthropologists, Other Humans and Non-Humans in the Waters of Middle East


Title Prof First name Nefissa Last name Naguib
Institution University of Oslo City Oslo Country NO


Title Dr First name Karin Last name Ahlberg
Institution name University of Stockholm City Stockholm Country SE


Panel title

Anthropologists, Other Humans and Non-Humans in the Waters of Middle East

Panel abstract

A growing trend in anthropology is to challenge prioritizations of life by extending forms of representation previously reserved for humans to other living beings. We wish to reify "life" in engaging with the lively entanglements that water could play in an anthropology of Middle East. Water's trickles and passages touches everyone. The foundational social organizer of societies, we know water as a pawn in politics, a source of squabbles between neighbors and conflicts between peoples and states, a marker of boundaries, sustainer of social differences, source of unions and separations (Naguib 2008). Zooming in on Middle East, we take water as "an active site of engagement" (Todd 2014:217) where human and nonhuman have interacted throughout history, reordered political, economic, social, and ecological power. Water in creates distinct spaces - The Nile (Mitchell 2002, Barnes 2014), the Indian Ocean (Ho 2004), the Red and Mediterranean Seas (Ben-Yehoyada 2017. Pua 2019), the Suez Canal (Huber 2013), irrigation canals, lakes, dams, oasis and aqua culture. These highlight distinct geographies: - the villages, the deserts, coastlines and city streets, and conjure different challenges and possibilities: water scarcity, rising sea levels, marine mobilities and food (in)security. Sea routes have played a fundamental role in connecting the region globally (Ho 2004); in fact, the history of the region cannot be understood without thinking through water. We invite colleagues to draw on original ethnographic material from the Middle East to reflect on the following questions: What interspecies constellations - humans, animals, fish and microbes - are assembled by waters in and of the region? What challenges are facing multispecies communities and mobilities in an era of human interference in water and water flows? What legacies of human interventions and imperial debris keep on haunting water?

IUAES Commission