Experiencing water environments and environmental changes: An anthropological study of water in Albania, Serbia and Slovenia

research project
Basic Info



This research project is conceived as a contribution to the anthropology of water. Water related research at large still tends to focus on the areas that are vulnerable to severe droughts (Africa), the consequences of the melting ice (e.g. the Artic pole, South America), or rising seas (e.g. Oceania). Yet, parts of the South East Europe (SEE) or the so-called Balkans seem to be still a blank space of the research dedicated to ‘water-related changes’. Proposed research team aims to explore this overlooked chapter of the anthropology of water in SEE by documenting and analysing the ways in which water and water environments are being experienced and understood in Albania, Serbia and Slovenia. The aim of this comparative anthropological study is to understand and describe how the short- and long-term environmental changes are experienced and thought in Albania, Serbia and Slovenia. Departing from the so-called ecological or environmental anthropology, which in transgressing the nature/culture dualism directs its attention towards the deep entanglement existing among the geological, hydrological and social, the project explores these relationships in particular water environments of particular rivers in Albania, Serbia and Slovenia. By closely following the ways in which people, governments, transnational corporations and environmentalists intervene and interpret water-related phenomena and other environmental changes, the research will question and further complicate the pervasive meanings of the notions of ‘environment’, ‘sustainability’, ‘resilience’, ‘adaptation’ and ‘vulnerability’.

This research is conceived as a classical anthropological study. However its goal is to innovatively combine anthropological approach with remote sensing (RS) methods and geographical analysis. Particular research phases will thus benefit from the RS modelling analysis, geomorphological and hydrogeological analysis, which will be done by a geodesists and a geographer. The analysis of the satellite images and geographical validation of the areas under study will allow the anthropologists to view the water bodies in the longitudinal time-frame, from above (RS analysis) and below (geology) the Earth’s surface.

Our goal is to explore water through its nature/culture, source/resource axis and question what people make out of it, how do they feel, sense and imagine it? We will focus on human agency and also on that of water, its power and capacity to create, inspire, overflow and make things happen. Moreover, we will also question the contemporary environmental and ecological fixation with water’s influence on the landscape from an anthropological point of view. The application of the RS methods and geographical analysis will direct our attention towards the deep entanglement existing among the geological, hydrological and social in particular water environments in Albania, Serbia and Slovenia. Streaming across disciplines and different conceptual the project will allow to navigate and widen the ethnographic analysis of ‘fluid environments’.

anthropology of water; fluid environments; sustainability; environmentalism; South East Europe; Albania