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"The River is not to Blame" : Anthropomorphizing the agency of water and expanding solidarity

Title data

Jahn, Eileen ; Bastidas Meneses, Luis Bernardo:
"The River is not to Blame" : Anthropomorphizing the agency of water and expanding solidarity.
Event: Waterworlding: Reflecting on Multiple Waters , June 17–19, 2021 , online.
(Conference item: Conference , Paper )

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Abstract in another language

In September 2020, people gathered for a ceremony entitled “The river was not guilty” during the Week for Peace in Magdalena Medio, Colombia. In this event, people acknowledged the Magdalena River as a victim of Colombia’s armed conflict. Since mainly right-wing paramilitaries disposed of their victims in the river, it was turned into an accomplice. When agency is ascribed to a river, as both embracing murdered victims and later releasing them “in an act of solidarity” (Week for Peace 2020), we consider the river as a space of life, transformation, solidarity and death.

Beyond the many contested definitions (Bayertz 1999, Scholz 2008), as a relational concept and practice, solidarity describes a bond, an overlap of interests and support towards other individuals or groups. It is commonly motivated by shared values, the expectation of reciprocity, and thus, distinguished from related concepts like loyalty or justice (Hondrich & Koch-Arzberger 1992, Alexander 2006). However, the concept of solidarity runs the risk of excluding more-than-human entities and exclusively emphasizes human agency.

In our presentation, we take the case of the Magdalena River and the Week for Peace event as a departure point to reflect on some of the assumptions underpinning scholars’ understanding of solidarity and on the implications of understanding the river as an agent.

Further data

Item Type: Conference item (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: river; agency; solidarity; violence; more-than-human relations
Institutions of the University: Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Lehrstuhl Religionswissenschaft I
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Chair Sociology of Culture and Religion
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Chair Epistomologies of the global South
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 200 Religion > 290 Other religions
300 Social sciences
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2021 12:29
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2021 11:39