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Environmental Configurations

When the River Zayandeh Rud Stopped Crossing Isfahan

Sahar Faeghi and Sophie Roche

Among the many consequences of Iran’s suffering from water shortage in recent decades, the major river of Isfahan city, Zayandeh Rud, has dried out. While experts observe this issue through environmental discourses and local farmers engage in political protests, citizens phrase the loss of the river as a cultural catastrophe. Within the environmental configuration that includes the river, historical buildings, parks, fauna, flora and humans, habitual relationships produce a sense of security and well-being. Since the drought, this configuration has been seriously affected. We suggest the drought is experienced as sociocultural disaster because Zayandeh Rud is a central element for the creation of social, cultural, economic and political relationships. Following the suggestion of Tim Ingold, we conceptualise the environment as the interplay between the German notion of Umwelt (out world) and Innenwelt (subjective world).