NEWAVE e-Lecture Series: Ways of knowing water | Prof. Margreet Zwarteveen

November 19, 2020, 14.00 - 14.35

Ways of knowing water 

Knowing water is always a simultaneously social (political, cultural, institutional, historical) and scientific practice. This also means that answers to questions about “what is true?” will be mixed up with opinions about “what is right?” or “what is good?”. Donna Haraway’s notion of knowledge as situated and partial – and her definition of objectivity as being about particular and specific embodiment – provides an interesting way of grappling with this entanglement between science and society. The lecture uses her theoretical proposal to discuss different ways of knowing water. Rather than considering these as different perspectives on the same water, the argument is that these produce different versions of water – or indeed different waters. Such differences should and often cannot be made to disappear through integration or commensuration, which is why there is merit to instead learn how to live with them – even when they are in tension with each other.


Jamie Linton.(2008). Is the Hydrologic Cycle Sustainable? A Historical–Geographical Critique of a Modern Concept, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 98(3): 630-649.

Dominguez-Guzman, C., A. Verzijl and M. Zwarteveen. (2017). Water Footprints and ‘Pozas’: Conversations about Practices and Knowledges of Water Efficiency. Water 9(1):0016. 

Goldman, M.(2007). How “Water for All!” policy became hegemonic: The power of the World Bank and its transnational policy networks. Geoforum 38(5):786-800.

Taylor, K.S., S. Longboat, R.Q. Grafton. (2019). Whose Rules? A Water Justice Critique of the OECD’s12 Principles on Water Governance. Water 2019, 11(4): 809

Zwarteveen, M.Z., J. Kemerink-Seyoum, M. Kooy, et al. (2017). Engaging with the politics of water governance. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water (September)


Prof. Margreet Zwarteveen 

Margreet is a Professor of Water Governance at IHE-Delft and the University of Amsterdam. Trained as both an irrigation engineer and a social scientist, Margreet is interested in water allocation policies, technologies and practices, and the knowledges that justify or inform these. She focuses her research and education on questions of (gender-) equity and justice. Her current research includes a project (financed by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, NWO), that looks at the mobility of Dutch Delta experts and expertise to examine the production of evidence under conditions of uncertainty. She is also the coordinator of a large international research network (funded by the Belmont-Norface Programme on Transformations to Sustainability) to study and learn from bottom-up initiatives to protect or share groundwater. In her work, Margreet favors an interdisciplinary approach, seeing water flows and distributions as the outcome of interactions between natures, technologies and people.

About the e-Lecture Series:

This online training module has the objective to engage the NEWAVESRs and the audience in different water governance perspectives. All lectures are open to the public upon registration.

Please register here

A participation certificate can be requested if attending at least 80% of the online public talks.

*All times are in CET (UTC+1)

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