Water as a boundary liquid … ahhh…object

Good news for our friends in water infrastructure research (and for those interested in STS and state theory of course): Patrick Carrolls “Water, and Technoscientific State Formation in California” has just been published as an “online-first” by Social Studies of Science!

This paper argues that water gradually became, over a period of more than half a century, a critical boundary object between science and governance in California. The paper historicizes ‘water’, and argues that a series of discrete problems that involved water, particularly the reclamation of ‘swampland’ in the Sacramento Valley, gradually came to be viewed as a single ‘water problem’ with many facets. My overarching theoretical aim is to rethink the ontology of the technoscientific state through the tools of actor-network theory. I conclude with the following paradox: the more the technoscientific state forms into a complex gathering – or ‘thing’ – of which humans are part, the more it is represented and perceived as a simplified and singular actor set apart from those same humans.


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