Expectations of water futures and hydrosocial change linked to irrigation development in Tasmania, Australia
Kumar, S and Leith, P and Garcia Imhof, C and Adhikari, R, Expectations of water futures and hydrosocial change linked to irrigation development in Tasmania, Australia, Geoforum, 129 pp. 107-117. ISSN 0016-7185 (2022) [Refereed Article]
Irrigation development projects rely on visions of a better future to get funded. How do these visions shape investments in the present and with what effects? We combine concepts and perspectives from sociological studies of expectations and hydrosocial literature to examine how visions of the future shape interactions between water and society in the context of irrigation development in the island state of Tasmania in Australia. We compare the state's vision of irrigation-driven growth that is embedded in infrastructure and institutions, with the aspirations and lived experiences of farmers, gathered through interviews. Interview data reveal the contingency and multiplicity of the future projected in policies. Our analysis suggests that irrigation development is accelerating agricultural intensification and growth in Tasmania, while at the same time increasing technocratic control of water resources, capital accumulation and corporate investment in farms. Examining the causal influence of the future on actions, infrastructure and social arrangements in the present provides a basis to critically evaluate and shape water futures.
water futures, expectations, irrigation, hydrosocial research