Green Mirage: Documentary on communal water management in Tunisia


A description I was sent:

A documentary about the Demmer village in the southern Tunisia and its traditional water management.

The local population of the village of Demmer has been organized in a ‘communal’ system that guaranteed it a certain coherence and a ‘know-how’ of living together, that covered almost all aspects of life, from the rules of grazing and the conservation of resources, including management of alliances, marriage, heritage and conflict resolution. Without being ideal or devoid of inequality and injustice, this communal coherence managed to insure a permanence of life, and an evident durability and has prevented any dramatic socio-spatial breakdown or a premature desertification.

The set of traditional and artisanal rules, know-hows, techniques, technologies and practices that respect the environment and protect the biodiversity proved and guaranteed an indisputable durability. It lasted till the mid-fifties of the last century, when the external factors came to undermine the most solid foundations and launch a dangerous process of physical and human desertification.

Demmer is an isolated place. However this isolation is not an absolute rupture with the rest of the world, and Demmer suffers, like the rest of the planet from the global phenomena and processes, sometimes even in a more ‘violent’ way than in big cities. The phenomena linked to modernity, whether technical, technological, social, ‘cultural’ and even religious, is usually lived in these isolated spaces in a collectively dramatic way, even if in some instances, this modernity could be of collateral benefit those whose way of life is destroyed in the process.

This opening on the ‘modern’ world is unquestionably accompanied by the disruption and disappearance of the technical, technological, social and cultural local heritage. The film wants to preserve this heritage by raising awareness of its deep wisdom and capture it on film with the prospect of using the document in the future as reference in the probable case of total erosion of the socio-ecological system.

By stressing, highlighting and documenting the genius of management of resources in the village of Demmer, the film is a contribution to the many debates around the consequences – direct and/or indirect – of development policies, whether successful or failing, on the local populations and the isolated and/or forgotten regions. But beyond the specific questions to Demmer and its population, this film is about the reflection on the sense, advantages and consequences, sometimes dramatic, of modernity and particularly the consequences of the dominant discourses and models of development.

Hands in the mist: the Safe Agua Peru project in Cerro Verde slum

An interesting documentary, hopefully the video will embed properly below, if not, here is the link and a short description.

“A short documentary in collaboration with the Latin American NGO, Un Techo para mi Pais and its Innovation Center. The film follows the Designmatters Safe Agua Peru project, in which Art Center students co-created innovative design solutions to overcome water poverty with families living in Cerro Verde, a 30,000-person slum [asentamientos] perched on the hillsides surrounding Lima, Peru.”

Anthropocene debate between Andy Revkin and Clive Hamilton

Discussion, via either phone or skype, moderated by Grist’s Nathanael Johnson.

George Monbiot on pricing nature (spoiler, he’s against it as a neoliberal project)

Monbiot has an extended essay in the Guardian today, and below is a lecture he gave earlier this spring on this and related ideas.

What do post-docs do? The short version (stats!)

I’m nearing the end of my time here at Harvard. Though I’m technically a fellow through the end of August I’ll be moving back to Canada at the end of this month with more details to follow on what I’ll be up to next. I thought I should reflect on what it is that I’ve done as a post-doc because these sorts of positions vary so much that the more accounts we have the better. So here are the quick stats:

1. I researched and wrote my new book, Normal Water, which is almost ready to be submitted to the publisher (I’m in the final editing stages). My strategy was simply to write everyday, with a reachable goal (usually 500 well crafted and cited words) that would allow me to free up time for reading, exercise, other work, seminars, etc.

2. Then I wrote some more. I revised some of my dissertation chapters into articles, collaborated on new articles and put a few things out in book chapters. Total stats: 5 journal articles (I’m tallying based on what’s published or accepted only during the post-doc), 3 book chapters and 3 book reviews.

3. I looked for more work. This was by far the most stressful part, but I did not apply to many jobs. From what I gather from discussions with others I’m definitely on the low side of applications in terms of straight numbers. In total,  I applied to 11 jobs and one other post-doc. I received three offers. This is a relatively high rate of return in academia but also a rate that reflects a very targeted search strategy both by location and job type. I was also willing to go the non-academic route.

4. I gave talks. 16 of them, at conferences, workshops and panels.

5. I didn’t teach. I did advise one undergraduate project and gave a number of guest lectures – usually via skype – to classes at other universities.

6. I started this blog, which I’ve tried to post to fairly regularly. Though I’ve not done much in terms of writing on it, it is a handy repository for things. Perhaps I will write more once this book is finished.

Erle Ellis: anthropogenic landscapes and planetary opportunities

Ray Monk: life without theory

Christiana Peppard on the Pope and the Sin of Environmental Degradation

An interesting interview with Christiana Pepppard (@profpeppard if you’re on twitter). You can listen to the interview or read the transcript here.

Elizabeth Povinelli: Geontologies Being, belonging, and obligating as forms of truth making

Summer reading: Dystopia, ecology, science fiction

A few books to take together.One is Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312, which came out last year, but Green Planets2312which has now been followed by a co-edited volume on science fiction and ecology and entitled Green Planets.

Naomi Oreskes has also just released a dystopian book about the future…in 2393. That book is co-written with Erik Conway.

All the links are to Amazon, but I hope it goes with out saying that this is not a recommendation to buy them there.