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Global Dialogues Series | The Ripple Effect: Water Politics in a Global Context

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When the source of life also becomes a source of severe risk and unpredictable danger, what is asked of communities whose modes of everyday life must change accordingly? The 2022 Pakistan floods, which affected more than 30 million people, were caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers, both of which were exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change. 

As we continue to witness the consequences of climate change, Stanford Global Studies’ The Ripple Effect: Water Politics in a Global Context will explore crises of water around the globe—the flooding of Pakistan, the depletion of aquifers in the American Great Plains, among others to ask: what does climate justice action entail for the communities who are least responsible for anthropogenic climate disaster and yet often bear its heaviest brunt? This event will explore local strategies of resilient adaptation as well as their extra-local implications for global understandings of environmental justice, foregrounding the complex entanglements of bureaucratic, legal, and capital power that underlies each crisis of water. This panel discussion will foster an interdisciplinary, transnational dialogue about local resilience and global calls for environmental justice action, so as to envision emancipatory futures both in wait and soon to arrive.

View the recording here.


Andrea Ballestero
Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Southern California

Andrea Ballestero is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California. She is interested in political and legal anthropology, STS, and social studies of finance and economics. Her work looks at the unexpected ethical and technical entanglements through which experts understand water in Latin America. She is particularly interested in spaces where the law, economics, and techno-science are so fused that they appear as one another.

Her first book, A Future History of Water (Duke University Press, 2019), asks how the difference between a human right and a commodity is produced in regulatory and governance spaces that purport to be open to different forms of knowledge and promote flexibility and experimentation. She has worked with regulators, policymakers, and NGOs in Costa Rica and Brazil where she traces how technolegal devices embody moral distinctions, pose questions about the foundations of liberal capitalist societies, and help people inhabit non-linear and generative futures.

Lucas Bessire
Professor of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma

Lucas Bessire is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests include natural resources, inequality, affect and genre. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

He is the author of Behold the Black Caiman: a Chronicle of Ayoreo Life (University of Chicago Press, 2014), the co-editor of Radio Fields: anthropology and wireless sound in the 21stcentury (NYU Press, 2012), and author of Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains (Princeton University Press, 2021). Running Out was awarded five book prizes and selected as a finalist for the National Book Award. Professor Bessire is currently working on environmental and economic histories of the Arctic and the High Plains.

Maira Hayat
Assistant Professor of Environment and Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

Maira Hayat is an assistant professor of environment and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame. She is a concurrent faculty member in Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology. Before coming to Notre Dame, she was a postdoctoral fellow in Stanford University’s Department of Anthropology and at the Woods Institute for the Environment. She earned a Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago in 2018.

Hayat conducts research at the intersection of bureaucracy, law, and the environment, drawing on ethnographic and archival methods. Her current and first book project is based on her doctoral dissertation, “Ecologies of Water Governance in Pakistan: The Colony, the Corporation and the Contemporary,” which won the 2019 S.S. Pirzada Annual Dissertation Prize for best dissertation on Pakistan.

Hayat’s community-engaged teaching on environmental violence and justice has been awarded a Cardinal Course Grant Award for Public Service and an artsCatalyst Grant (at Stanford University) and a Starr Lectureship Award at the University of Chicago.


Andrew Bauer
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University

Andrew Bauer is an anthropological archaeologist whose research and teaching interests broadly focus on the archaeology of human-environment relations, including the socio-politics of land use and both symbolic and material aspects of producing spaces, places, and landscapes. Andrew's primary research is based in South India, where he co-directs fieldwork investigating the relationships between landscape history, cultural practices, and institutionalized forms of social inequalities and difference during the region’s Neolithic, Iron Age, Early Historic, and Medieval periods. As an extension of his archaeological work he is also interested in the intersections of landscape histories and modern framings of nature that relate to conservation politics and climate change.

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