Meanings and Social Practices: Changing Pattern of Water Consumption in Western Himalayan Region

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:36
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Chandan KAUSHAL, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
Sarmistha PATTANAIK, Indian Institute of Technology, India
Water, a universally available fluid resource, is differently treated in different contexts and therefore obtains different meanings. These meanings are not only embedded in the various “signs” and “symbols” (Geertz) but in the “social practices” (Schatzki) that mark a region.  Thus, deriving from practice theory (Reckwitz) the paper attempts to trace these meanings and social practices to understand water in the Chamba region in Himachal Pradesh. Drawing from its historical past, there is an attempt to understand how meanings and practices affect each other to produce and reproduce newer meanings and practices over a period of time.

Meanings of water are determined by ‘absence’ or ‘presence’ of different water bodies that characterize a certain region. Various water bodies form combination of water sources that are utilized on an everyday basis by the people.  In the context of Chamba, a region marked by presence of various water bodies, the meaning and practices of water have undergone a change over time with introduction of piped water supply. Introduction of piped water supply has led to a re-classification of water giving rise to newer combinations of water bodies available for the people. In and through the descriptions of the meaning making of water as a social process, this paper is an attempt to explore the relationship between meaning making, social practices and consumptions pattern of water which is not only embedded in social practices but also in daily routines in the region.