Home / resources / STS/CSIS Food for Thought, Mar. 13th: Dr. Andrea Ballestero - “Wonder, Water, and the Devices that make it differ”

STS/CSIS Food for Thought, Mar. 13th: Dr. Andrea Ballestero - “Wonder, Water, and the Devices that make it differ”

When Mar 13, 2017
from 04:00 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Andrews Conference Room (SSH 2203)
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Please join us for a STS/CSIS Food For Thought event with:

Dr. Andrea Ballestero

Department of Anthropology

Rice University

“Wonder, Water, and the Devices that make it differ”

Monday, March 13th - 4:00 - 6:00 pm in the Andrews Conference Room (SSH Building #2203)

Abstract: Technocrats and activists devoted to the recognition of water as a human right in Costa Rica spend their days activating a series of technical and semiotic devices to challenge the commodification of water. But despite their concerted efforts, whenever they disentangle the human right from the commodity, the world re-entangles them, muddling that which they had carefully delineated; confusing what seemed ethically clear and creating the need for a new differentiation, further bifurcation. In this paper, I focus on a few of the devices people in Costa Rica are using in their struggle to create those differences in the world. I explore the question of when and how a difference can be produced. To do so I engage in an analysis of techno-politics that begins from wonder as an epistemic disposition. Through wonder we can envision the monstrous, generative and confusing possibilities in the political devices people depend upon, thereby delving into the intricacies of legal and bureaucratic change, a space where many fundamental questions about life and death are figured out daily, in non-spectacular ways.

As usual, we will pre-circulate a text which will be briefly introduced at the start of the session. The introduction will be followed by an hour or so of lively discussion about the text, so please come having read the paper in advance. Food and refreshments will be provided!

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP with Adrian using the google form below. He will send a copy of the text the week before!



Dr. Ballestero is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Rice University where she also runs The Ethnography Studio. She is interested in spaces where the law, economics and techno-science are so fused that they appear nearly indistinguishable from each other. Her current research examines practices of valuation and differentiation of water in Latin America. She is also conducting ethnographic explorations of the underground examining the peculiar volumetric politics of the subsurface world.


Adrian Lip Shing Yen

STS Fellow

PhD Candidate

Department of Anthropology

University of California Davis

Davis, California 95616


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