Exploring individuals' affective interaction with the object of water after an infrastructure disaster




Adams, Andrew

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As climate change yields volatility in the environment, much of the critical water infrastructure in Texas, which is already failing, is subject to a significantly increased risk of failure. Researchers have begun to incorporate the study of people’s perceptions of water, and relative affairs, to support and sustain infrastructure and environmental policy. Across the literature, there is a clear demand for localized, individual, content and context about people’s relationship with water, which may be used to empower data and analysis outcomes that may ultimately inform the field of water resources and its pedagogy as a whole. Our ability to understand what affective relations, individuals who experienced an infrastructure disaster, construct with the object of water is vital to increasing the efficacy of engagement by those working in water. While there is a lack of research in this area, researchers have concluded that it is important for researchers to continue to crosspollinate theoretical approaches to further understand affective relations. The theoretical shift presented in this study is the recognition that affective spaces grant agency to objects with which people may construct affective relations, recognize materialism in the construction of knowledge about abstract objects, embrace the heterogeneity of individual experience, and gives power to the individual in a way which allows a more authentic version of lived experience to be captured in data. To substantiate my argument, I analyzed qualitative interview data which captured constructed affective relations with the object of water from people who have experienced a dam failure in the Lake Dunlap community. My analysis suggests that (1) participants’ affective relations with family history, recreation, and the building of family intertwined significantly with the object of water to impact their decision in which physical location they chose to settle in; (2) a desire to return the physical landscape to its previous state as a lake drove people to support individual and organizational roles in accomplishing this, even if it conflicted with their interests; and (3) participants formed different perspective frames of authority, responsibility, and water-resources management based on their differences in constructed knowledge.



water resources, affective geography, hazards and disasters, affective relations, dams, Lake Dunlap, infrastructure policy, Texas


Adams, A. (2022). Exploring individuals' affective interaction with the object of water after an infrastructure disaster (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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