One might think that Andrea Ballestero’s indispensable book “A Future History of Water”—which is available for free download—is the result of the research she carried out in Costa Rica and Brazil on aquifers and the human right to water. But that would be an oversimplification. The book is purely a testimony—a record of her work, her interviews, and her involvement in a much more complex web— which literally puts on the table many of her reflections and the crystallisation of her field work. But as she says in this conversation, it also reflects a way of understanding the methodology itself, its instruments and its loops. “I identify with what anthropology makes possible, but not necessarily with the discipline as such,” she tells us. Whether in her teaching or her participation in the popular resistance for universal access to water, Ballestero’s approach is a feedback exercise that completely blurs the division between theory and practice. Her work advocates a collaborative, feminist modus operandi on ethnography, as well as the affordances of the environment: be that an ecosystem, a regulatory agency, or “the technolegal devices at the centre of these political mobilisations.”
Radio Web MACBA talk to Andrea Ballestero about aquifers and amorphous futures, about imagination as an essential part of the academic research process, and about the potential of bureaucratic practices as cogs in a possible machinery of change—which does not necessarily have to involve large-scale global transformations. They also talk about how to redirect collective energy to the present as a way of securing a more equitable future, through mundane and everyday actions that have direct, tangible consequences.
Photo Courtesy of the organisation