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Richard Henry Watts
University of Washington (Seattle, WA 98105-6613)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2011 – 8/31/2011

Water Narratives: Imagining Global Environmental Change in the Francophone Post/Colonial World

This book project considers disruptions in relations to life's most crucial element, fresh water, in the time of global environmental change and details the cultural effects that these changes produce. Ever more precarious access to fresh water as well as perceived changes in water's composition as a result of increasingly widespread pollution have transformed its uses and meaning in literature, cinema, and other forms of cultural production. The notion that water can have a timeless symbolic value has been shaken, and that is perhaps nowhere truer than in the postcolonial world, where the water crisis, for both historical and geographical reasons, is most acutely felt. Beyond its postcolonial focus, the study has a further French Studies specificity: texts from the francophone postcolonies (sub-Saharan Africa, Maghreb, Caribbean, Vietnam) convey that water's use value and symbolic value are in great flux and that this instability is inextricable from past and present ties to France.