Water in Atmospheric Suspension
Coastal Fogs as Catchable Material Possibility in Peru
In this paper I discuss emergent attunements to coastal fog as a potential water source in Peru. By installing fog catchers in the hills around Lima, NGOs, residents, scientists, and conservationists seek to transform this airborne extension of the ocean into water for use in small-scale water supply systems and infrastructures of fog oasis restoration. Ethnographies of rural Peru have shown how in the context of modern water management, multiple, relational water practices become subject to singularisation by a managerial and decision- making elsewhere. Rather than doing away with multiple waters, the tensions that ensue from such conjunctures are generative of new divergences. Far from a site where singularisation has already been or may become potentially successful, emergent attunements to fog in Lima are suggestive of how the urban, too, is a setting from where novel water practices might emerge—here one that attends to a form of water that is not yet piped, nor circulating, but airborne, elusive, and ephemeral, sometimes encountered as nearly immaterial. This paper describes the various devices and techniques of enquiry through which this atmospheric phenomenon gradually comes to be enacted as a volume of quantifiable water. These relational engagements with fog will then be used to reflect on the potentials and limitations of contemporary speculative realisms for ethnographic enquiry into water and the other-than- human more broadly considered.