Hell or High Water: Collaborative songwriting and lived experiences of water insecurity and environmental precariousness, as seen through the lens of 'Day Zero' and the water crisis in Cape Town

Projekter: ProjektForskning

Se relationer på Aarhus Universitet


Employing an artistic research practice the study explores collaborative songwriting to shed light on the relationship between humans and water in times of resource stress exacerbated by climatic change. Viewing water as a precious heritage that we pass on to future generations I investigate subjective responses to living with environmental precariousness, such as water insecurity, as seen through the lens of 'Day Zero' and the water crisis in Cape Town.

Lived experiences of living with water insecurity are influenced by the politics and governance of water and therefore I explore this descriptively in the study. However, the core of the project develops personal and collaborative songwriting to convey stories of lived experiences. I am interested in how living with environmental insecurity feels, and the artistic research practice seeks to unveil also the ineffable and the visceral experiences of human-water relationships.

With Eisner (Eisner, 2008) I view knowledge as a verb, something we do, and am pursuing this creative practice to allow knowledge to emerge in non-discursive, non-rationalist ways. Following Polanyi (Knowles 1947- & Cole, 2008; Polanyi & Sen, 2009) I believe that we 'know more than we can tell' and pursuing the above mentioned practice, I seek to unveil layers and richness not necessarily captured with a questionnaire, through an interview or through other, more traditional, methods.

In other words, through the context of human-water relationships and environmental precariousness I investigate the content of lived experiences and how these may be expressed using and exploring the process of collaborative song creation.

To this end, I travelled to Cape Town in March 2018, during the height of the ‘Day Zero’ crisis, and came back to do additional fieldwork in March and from October through December of 2019.

I am affiliated with the HATA-project - “Heritage and the Anthropocene: Curated Natures and Anthropocenic Landscapes in Europe and South Africa.” HATA is headed by Associate Professor Nick Shepherd, Dept. of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Aarhus University, who is also the main supervisor for my PhD-project. Professor Andreas Roepstorff from the Interacting Minds Center, Aarhus University, serves as co-supervisor.


I investigate lived experiences of environmental insecurity using and exploring the artisitc practice of collaborative song creation (co-writing)
Kort titelHell or High Water
Effektiv start/slut dato22/06/201830/06/2022

ID: 137638297