Environmental Configurations

When the River Zayandeh Rud Stopped Crossing Isfahan

in Anthropology of the Middle East
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  • 1 Dept. of Management, Isfahan (Khorasgan) Branch, Islamic Azad University s.faeghi@gmail.com
  • 2 Heidelberg Cluster for Transcultural Studies, University of Heidelberg sophie.roche@hcts.uni-heidelberg.de
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Abstract

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).

Contributor Notes

Sophie Roche is a social anthropologist who works on conflicts and environmental disasters in Central Asia, Iran and Germany. She is specialized in the social and political history and ethnography of Central Asia. She received her PhD from the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg and her habilitation degree at the Ruprecht Karls University of Heidelberg. She has been at several research centres in Germany including the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin, the Heidelberg Cluster for Transcultural Studies as well as at the Goethe University of Frankfurt. She authored two monographs, several edited volumes and more than forty articles and book chapters. Email: sophie.roche@hcts.uni-heidelberg.de

Sahar Faeghi holds a PhD in cultural sociology from Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch of Tehran. She is specialized in cultural studies. Authoring several articles and translating some book chapters are some of her scientific activities in the field of cultural studies in the recent years. The current focus of her recent researches is on the environmental crises and their implications for the society. Hence the intersection between an environmental incident and the daily life is where all the research interests of this scholar come together, she works on environmental disasters with an emphasis on droughts in Iran. Email: s.faeghi@gmail.com

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