Germinating ideas, method reflections, PhD life

Thesis update – ‘benefits’

A previously described, my thesis is oriented around the concept of benefits generated within constructed wetland projects and their waterscapes. The way I think about this concept of benefits is constantly developing. This is a short post to try to summarise how I see each of the three key benefits, that I am developing into…

constructed wetland rationales

Last spring, as it became clear that fieldwork would not be possible for quite a while, I began work on a desk-based PhD chapter on the rationale for constructed wetlands. I had been thinking about saying something on the normativities of wastewater treatment and constructed wetlands for a while. In the months of lockdown I…

“Inspirational quotes” from recent readings

The world’s (still) a mess. So, it’s always nice to come across writings that suggest a link between my PhD work and broader ecological-political questions. Here are two from the past month. “Certainly, human action (including by way of the state) and modern technology are needed. But so are the politics, ethics, and amodern…

Water, Society, Ecologies

Back in September last year I had the privilege of participating in a PhD course hosted jointly by the University of Aarhus and the University of Cape Town. From the course description: Attending to the centrality of water to colonial expansion, the neoliberal trend towards privatising water services and access, and the relative invisibility of…

The nature of Nature-based Solutions

Talk presented at the POLLEN political ecology conference, 22-25 September 2020. The bibliography for the talk is attached below.

Producing wetland resources

How do wetland resources figure in these wastewaterscapes? And how does my research incorporate the social and biophysical dimensions of resource production?

Understanding water quality

Water quality improvement is the main purpose of constructed wetlands. But what exactly does good water quality mean?

waterscape benefits

The central research task of my PhD is to trace how benefits emerge within wastewaterscapes. This post will explain how I understand benefits.

DIY waterscape

When I was growing up our family farm had a couple of springs, where water bubbled out of the hillside. One of these fed a pond. Another became a tiny stream. At some point I decided to reshape this waterscape. I dug out a little basin at the spring, and used the mud I’d dug…

How should we approach living infrastructures?

Following on from the previous post, I wanted to think a little more about what general conclusions are warranted. Some short points, keeping in mind Donna Haraway’s insistence on “grappling with, rather than generalising from, the ordinary” (Haraway, 2008: 3). On a very abstract level, two possibilities stand out.  From the perspective of Eric Swyngedouw,…

Bringing infrastructure to life

One of the fun parts of interdisciplinary research (and research in general) is pulling together different ideas and concepts. In thinking about constructed wetlands, the combination encapsulated by ‘living infrastructure’ is one I’ve found interesting. In this post I want to (a) quickly lay out some of the theoretical currents that lead to this intersection,…

Living waters

This post was written in 2017; living in Berlin and thinking about rivers in Aotearoa. I think some of the ways of thinking about water in it have carried through into my current research. Rivers are living systems. Endless currents of debate, diverging policies, a flood of concern about water issues, none of this matters…


Fragments of life on-the-move; selected from lockdown.


The central question of my PhD is how benefits are produced within a wastewaterscape. To answer this question requires a mix of methods. However, mixing methods is not as simple as cake or even concrete making. If you’ve made your own mayonnaise, I think this provides the best metaphor.

Introducing the research

The entanglement of different waters, places and living beings, is what makes water research so interesting. Water appears differently in each assemblage, with different biochemical properties, cultural meanings and capacity to shape naturecultures.

Interdisciplinary weaving

based on a talk presented at the University of Stirling Interdisciplinary Seminar 16 Jan 2020 There are many different flavours of (inter-trans)disciplinarity, or even undisciplinarity. My particular context is doing interdisciplinary research solo, within a PhD project. What I want to discuss is some of the ways that I’ve been thinking about interdisciplinarity in this research.…