copyright steve wall


16th - 18th March 2010
For this year’s ESRC Festival of Social Science the RAI’s Education Outreach Programme is organising a series of evening film screenings and discussions with anthropologists on water, conservation and community. We hope that the debates and ideas shared at the screenings will build momentum and curiosity to investigate the subject further at our main event: The Meaning of Water on 20th March 2010.

Water Cultures offers participants an opportunity to take a glimpse at the lives of people whose livelihoods are being threatened by freshwater scarcity, and who are drawing upon local knowledge to find solutions to their predicament.

Filmmakers: André Singer and Stephen Lansing
Release: 1989
Length: 52 mins

The film demonstrates how in Bali, development projects can threaten a carefully balanced eco-logical irrigation system that is maintained by temple priests. A biologist and an anthropologist look at the traditional irrigation system and show through the use of a computer how it works. They then present the computer system to the temple priests as an aid to explore the effect of changes in the traditional irrigation system. The screening was followed by a Q&A session with anthropologist André Singer.


Director: Franny Armstrong
Release: 2002
Length: 72 mins

An Indian family decide to stay at home and drown rather than make way for the Narmada dam. Three choices: Move to the slums in the city; accept a place at a resettlement site; or stay at home and drown. The people of Jalsindhi in central India must make a decision fast. In the next few weeks, their village will disappear underwater as the giant Narmada Dam fills. Bestselling author Arundhati Roy joins the fight against the dam and asks difficult questions such as: Will the water go to poor farmers or to rich industrialists? What happened to the 16 million people displaced by fifty years of dam building? Why should I care? Drowned Out follows the Jalsindhi villagers through hunger strikes, rallies, police brutality and a six year Supreme Court case. The screening was followed by a Q&A session with anthropologist Hugh Brody.


Filmmaker: Joshka Wessel
Release: 2003
Length: 52 mins

“Little Waterfall” is a small village on the edge of the desert in Northern Syria. Life in Little Waterfall is made possible by the use of a 1500-year old Byzantine water tunnel. However, decades of migration and family conflicts caused the tunnel’s maintenance to be ignored. Mohammed Musa spent all his life in Little Waterfall. He does not have irrigation rights and he resents the way irrigation rights are sold by others. He undertakes a project to clean the tunnel in order to safeguard the water suply, and pursue his own interests.