When I asked the following six artists, theorists, community advocates, organizers, and members to contribute to this issue, it was primarily to share a reading or practice related to water and environmental justice (EJ) in our Primary Sources column. In soliciting these citations, I also asked them to answer a series of questions (which you will find below)…
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The bones that lie below the ruins of a medieval fortress in Dmanisi, Georgia, tell a story about the exodus of early humans from Africa almost two million years ago. The remains of five early humans, known as Homo erectus, have been found at Dmanisi. This 1.78 million-year-old World Heritage site is located in the country of Georgia on a promontory above where the Masavera and Pinasauri Rivers converge.
The title of the 1976 novella by Norman Maclean, A River Runs through It, is also an apt description of the career of Minnesota archaeologist Douglas A. Birk, who passed away unexpectedly in March 2017. Actually, several rivers run through his remarkable and pioneering career, which spanned nearly 50 years. Birk was among the first historical archaeologists to conduct underwater investigations of sites relating to the North American fur trade along the “voyageur’s highway,” the chain of rivers, lakes, and overland portages that run along the Minnesota-Canadian border.
On the drive northward from the Twin Cities on the straight and flat road of I-94, and then Minnesota’s Highway 10, the landscape of urban and suburban development slowly cedes to wide open fields and scattered towns, sometimes lined with rows and patches of trees. This is not the most exciting or scenic of drives, but it’s exciting to us nevertheless, because this is the way toward another season of archaeological fieldwork on a late eighteenth-century fur trade post located on the Leaf River in Wadena County.
These videos and audios are from Bdote Memory Map. The deep mapping project created by Allies: media/art is a partnership project with the Minnesota Humanities Center. The website was created several years ago to help citizens of the area now called Minnesota know where they are, and to learn from the Dakota that this place and the river is not a resource, but rather a relative.
Early one September morning in 1975, in a quiet Metairie subdivision west of Transcontinental Drive, a ranch house suddenly exploded in a fireball so powerful it damaged 20 neighboring buildings and broke windows a mile away. The house plus four adjacent homes were reduced to rubble, and 11 people were seriously injured.
Water is at the core of sustaining all life on earth, and the people who have inhabited the arid and semi-arid lands of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region throughout the centuries know this very well. Scarcity of water in the region has shaped its history and geopolitics, including into the present day, with climate change and population growth putting more pressure on already scarce water resources (World Bank 2018).
We live on a water planet. As the writer Arthur C. Clark noted, if we didn’t happen to be land-dwelling creatures, we would call our planet Ocean, rather than Earth. And for humans, fresh water is critical for life, health, our economies, and vibrant ecosystems. The vast majority of water on the planet—more than 97 percent—is salt water, in our oceans.
Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BCE-475 BCE) was the master of paradox: “It rests by changing,” “a thing agrees at variance with itself,” and “the same: living and dead, and the waking and the sleeping, and the young and the old” (Kahn 1979, Fragments LII, LXXVIII, XCIII). Both Plato and Aristotle saw his views as logically incoherent and inconsistent with the law of non-contradiction.
The River Nile has long been a subject of study and veneration. From the earliest times the Nile has presented problems upon which men have speculated. “Two of the most important which have been discussed since the time of Herodotus, the position of the sources of the Nile and the origin of its annual flood, were solved during the last and at the beginning of the present century.”