Concepts of Water

from an anthropological perspective

Various concepts try to make water tangible from a social or cultural science perspective. Some of them are presented here. The selection will continue to be developed.


Referring to the following passage from a poem by Koleka Putuma, Isabel Hofmeyr develops her concept of hydro-colonialism. "…every time our skin goes under, it's as if the reeds remember that they were once chains, and the water, restless, wishes it could spew all of the slaves and ships onto shore, whole as they had boarded, sailed and sunk. Their tears are what has turned the ocean salty…" The nation state of South Africa, she argues, is a hydro-colonial formation. Due to colonial invasion from the sea and a following nation-state inland orientation, historically established connections with the ocean were destroyed.


Hofmeyr, Isabel (2019): Provisional Notes on Hydrocolonialism
English Language Notes, Volume 57, Number 1, April 2019, pp. 11-20.

Putuma, Koleka (2017): Collective Amnesia
Cape Town: Uhlanga, p. 12f.