Political lives of anticipation: weather, climate and water knowledge in Belize


How do participants in Belize’s water sector deal with challenges in identifying and living within shifting environments, and in conducting the work of expectation? In forecasting centres and modelling workshops, data-driven models and maps of future environments are produced and (re)interpreted alongside situated knowledge and cultural practices, affective experiences, regional politics, and value commitments, as researchers and practitioners engage with contested concepts of vulnerability, responsibility, ignorance and expertise. This paper examines how diverse forms of anticipatory knowledge on different timescales are generated and recognised (or not) in the context of efforts to implement national climate change and water management policies. Building on a concept of ‘reckoning’ that attends to technical, relational and political dimensions of envisioning future resources, and acknowledges the role of craft and contingency as well as calculation and certainty, I situate these forecasting practices in multiple scales of environmental perception, socio-economic development, and the political lives of anticipation.

Part of the InSIS Seminar Series Hilary Term 2018

Presented by Sophie Haines

Sophie Haines is James Martin Fellow and ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellow at the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society at the University of Oxford. She completed her PhD in anthropology at University College London in 2011. Before joining InSIS she worked as a parliamentary researcher in the UK House of Commons, focusing on health policy among other areas.

Sophie’s research focuses on environmental knowledge and decision-making in contexts of social and ecological change. She is interested in the interfaces of anthropology and science and technology studies, of natural and social sciences, and of research and policy-making processes. To date her research has explored perceptions of the environment, changing livelihoods, infrastructural development, and the use of scientific predictions for resource and hazard management. She has carried out ethnographic fieldwork and interview-based studies in the UK, Belize and Kenya.

Sophie is currently leading the project Envisioning Emergent Environments: Negotiating Science and Resource Management in Rural Communities. Funded by the ESRC Future Research Leaders scheme, the study examines the implications of science-led watershed management interventions for rural residents in Belize. Sophie has previously worked on the DFID-funded research programme ‘REACH: Improving water security for the poor’, the Oxford Martin Programme on Resource Stewardship (OMPORS), and the NERC-funded project Improving Predictions of Drought for User Decision-Making (IMPETUS).