Özge Yaka (Potsdam)

River Waters as Constitutive of a More-than-Human Lifeworld

The Case of Turkey's East Black Sea Region

The literature on water and water struggles is dominated by an understanding of water as a resource, hence the popularity of concepts such as water access, water management, water governance. This paper, instead, discuss our connection to water, river waters to be specific, beyond its instrumental use. Building on the empirical case of women's activism against hydroelectric power plants in Turkey's East Black Sea region, the paper unveils the intimate sensory and affective connection between bodies of women and bodies of river waters using Merleau-Ponty's work, and critical, feminist and post- phenomenological perspectives that build on his work. It employs phenomenology in a close dialogue with water studies, especially with anthropology of water, affect and emotion studies, and feminist literature on agency and subjectivity. Building on these wide range of perspectives, it frames rivers not only as resources that sustain livelihoods, but as constitutive elements of a more-than-human lifeworld from which embodied subjectivities and agentic capacities emerge. It does so by demonstrating centrality of rivers to sensory, affective and emotional worlds of experience and to the making of places, histories, memories and heritage, in East Black Sea region of Turkey.