2nd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Becky Blanchard
Session Name Poster Session: Human Dimensions of Water Sustainability 2
Category Human dimensions of water sustainability
Poster Number 104
Author(s) Becky Blanchard,  Department of Anthropology, University of Florida
  Working on the Water: Oystermen, Environmental Flows, and Cultural Survival in the ACF Basin
  While water management agencies list cultural values among recognized water uses, these are often vaguely defined and excluded from decisions in favor of more easily commensurable environmental and economic values. However, in highly contested watersheds such as the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) basin in the southeastern United States, protracted water conflict creates uncertain decision making processes characterized by venue shifting and coalition politics. As this case illustrates, such crises may provide opportunities for public discourse on water and culture. This poster describes ongoing fieldwork investigating how Apalachicola Bay oyster harvesters articulate and mobilize culture in order to claim rights to freshwater flows in the ACF basin. Working in coalition with environmentalists and the state of Florida, oystermen strive to put a human face on so-called environmental flows. Notably in a region undergoing urbanization and gentrification, this is a rural, working class face. Drawing from theorization of blue-green coalitions and from evidence gathered through interviews and participant observation, I describe the promises and perils of oystermen's political work, as the implications of linking cultural survival and environmental flows for the ACF basin and other linked coastal-watershed systems.