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Communication

Making Sense of “Day Zero”: Slow Catastrophes, Anthropocene Futures, and the Story of Cape Town’s Water Crisis

by 1,2
1
Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark
2
Department of Historical and Heritage Studies, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0028, South Africa
Water 2019, 11(9), 1744; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11091744
Received: 9 May 2019 / Revised: 6 August 2019 / Accepted: 14 August 2019 / Published: 21 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Quality and Ecosystems in Times of Climate Change)
What form do the current and future catastrophes of the Anthropocene take? Adapting a concept from Rod Nixon, this communication makes a case for the notion of slow catastrophes, whose unfolding in space and time is uneven and entangled. Taking the events of Cape Town’s Day Zero drought as a case study, this paper examines the politics and poetics of water in the Anthropocene, and the implications of Anthropogenic climate change for urban life. It argues that rather than being understood as an inert resource, fresh drinking water is a complex object constructed at the intersection between natural systems, cultural imaginaries, and social, political and economic interests. The extraordinary events of Day Zero raised the specter of Mad Max-style water wars. They also led to the development of new forms of solidarity, with water acting as a social leveler. The paper argues that the events in Cape Town open a window onto the future, to the extent that it describes something about what happens when the added stresses of climate change are mapped onto already-contested social and political situations. View Full-Text
Keywords: slow catastrophes; anthropocene futures; Cape Town; “Day Zero”; water; hydrocitizenship slow catastrophes; anthropocene futures; Cape Town; “Day Zero”; water; hydrocitizenship
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MDPI and ACS Style

Shepherd, N. Making Sense of “Day Zero”: Slow Catastrophes, Anthropocene Futures, and the Story of Cape Town’s Water Crisis. Water 2019, 11, 1744. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11091744

AMA Style

Shepherd N. Making Sense of “Day Zero”: Slow Catastrophes, Anthropocene Futures, and the Story of Cape Town’s Water Crisis. Water. 2019; 11(9):1744. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11091744

Chicago/Turabian Style

Shepherd, Nick. 2019. "Making Sense of “Day Zero”: Slow Catastrophes, Anthropocene Futures, and the Story of Cape Town’s Water Crisis" Water 11, no. 9: 1744. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11091744

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