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Wiring Gaia at the Water-Energy Nexus: Indigenous Water Guardians and Decolonizing Water Science

January 24, 2017 @ 11:40 am - 1:15 pm  |  College 8, Room 301


As emblematized by the ongoing protests at Standing Rock, water is a foundational element—biophysical, epistemological, and spiritual—in Indigenous societies and lifeways. This crucial life source has come under increased threat due to the claimed necessity of extractivist development projects which impact the lives of all of our relations: human and more-than-human. In North America, energy extraction has accelerated processes of accumulation by dispossession, in a context of “light touch” regulation in which threats to water are scantily monitored, under-regulated, and under-reported, creating new and significant breaches of Indigenous rights.

Tuesday, January 24th from 11:40-1:15 in the Rachel Carson College room 301.

Our collective is beginning a large, seven year research project ( through which we are creating Indigenous-led water monitoring systems embedded in Indigenous water laws, as an expression of Indigenous self-governance. This raises a series of questions about the desirability and possibility of decolonizing water science; resurgent Indigenous self-governance in Canada’s north; the challenges posed to the nation-state by legal pluralism and parallel governance structures. More broadly, our initiative unfolds within the set of possibilities opened up by big data and eco-informatics in the Anthropocene, in which “Wiring Gaia” creates new openings for science, democratic decision-making, and Indigenous self-determination in Canada’s North. How might an “Internet of Earthlings” be co-constituted, and what possibilities (and pitfalls) might it create for all of our relations?

Bio: Dr. Karen Bakker is Professor, Canada Research Chair, and Director of the Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia ( She is currently the midwife (aka Principal Investigator) to a research collective of Indigenous community members, academics, artists, activists who are striving to decolonize water in both theory and practice ( A Rhodes Scholar with a PhD from Oxford, Karen is trained in both the natural and social sciences. She currently works at the intersection of political economy and political ecology, and publishes on a wide range of environmental issues (water, hydropower, food, energy).

Co-sponsored by the IHR Research Cluster on Race, Violence, Inequality and the Anthropocene and the Science and Justice Research Center.


January 24, 2017
11:40 am - 1:15 pm
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College 8, Room 301
College Eight Rd‎, University of California Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA 95064 United States
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