Calendar of Events

Fall 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013
Irene Klaver (Philosophy, University of North Texas)
Irene Klaver
Meander Model Meme: River as Bridge
3:30 pm Curtin 118

The 21st century sees an unprecedented rise of cities purposefully connecting their urban identities to their rivers. This transition from a 19th/20th century utilitarian river paradigm to an integrated paradigm, in which rivers function as a hydrological-ecological-cultural-economic-political nexus, exemplifies a specific sense of cultural imagination, which Irene Klaver calls environmental imagination.

Rivers are able to bridge nature and culture and facilitate sustainable development by tapping into their age-old deep cultural connections.

Meandering is at the heart of the trajectory of rivers in and out of the cultural imagination that Klaver presents. The river that gave this process its name is itself the exemplar of this trajectory. The River Meander (Anatolia, Turkey) once formed the primary conduit between Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Traders from East and West; the armies of Xerxes, Xenophon, and Alexander the Great—all followed the banks of the Meander. At its mouth sat the city of Miletus, where Greek philosophy and science originated with Thales. Yet, in the course of history the Meander River has become diverted, impounded, and polluted, and has all but disappeared from the cultural imagination.

Herodotus mentions the Meander’s winding ways and has given us the meaning of meandering as both a riverine phenomenon and a synonym for wandering. In a modern era of efficiency, meandering has acquired a negative connotation: the opposite of goal-oriented.

The re-inventing of cities around their rivers entails a re-valuing of meandering and engagement of environmental imagination. Understanding and doing justice to the complex social-cultural-environmental issues around rivers require a profoundly interdisciplinary approach: only through wandering, meandering back and forth, we will be able to elucidate attributes, relations, problems, and solutions and give due “thickness” to the various stories that need to emerge to make the urban river an equitable public place of affordance, invoking culture as a capacity to aspire.

Brown bag lunch discussion
Friday, November 1
12 noon Curtin 939

Background readings for the lecture and brown bag lunch discussion

Irene J. Klaver, “Environment Imagination Situation,” forthcoming in "Linking Ecology And Ethics For A Changing World: Values, Philosophy, and Action," eds. Ricardo Rozzi et al. (The Hague: Springer Press, 2013, in press)

Irene J. Klaver, "Placing Water and Culture," in Water, Cultural Diversity & Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures?, eds. Barbara Rose Johnston et al. (The Hague: Springer Press, 2012)

Note: The book Water, Cultural Diversity & Global Environmental Change is available online as a PDF.

Irene Klaver is a professor of Philosophy and Religioius Studies, and director of the Philosophy of Water project, at the University of North Texas. She is also a UNESCO-IHP advisor for Water and Cultural Diversity and is a co-director of the International Association for Environmental Philosophy. Professor Klaver recently co-edited Water, Cultural Diversity & Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures? (2012) and co-directed the film The New Frontier: Sustainable Ranching in the American West (2010).

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