Water, Hospitality and Difference in Everyday Life

Author(s): Mark Hauser

Year: 2015


Water and the making of authority has generally been viewed as a basic metabolic need whose capture and distribution provides a nexus through which power flows. The household becomes place of water consumption where subjectification was achieved in other domains and subsequently inscribed into the container. In this paper I take a slightly different approach. Specifically I ask the question, at what point does water become a convenience and how does its status as a convenience inflect both material practices of the household and social reproduction of governance in everyday life? This paper draws on recent trends examining the relations of power in everyday life focusing on daily rituals of hospitality. I rely on a case study from the eastern Caribbean. Perhaps no resource was more precious to 18th century Caribbean colonies than fresh water. Seasonality of weather, land modification to grow cash crops, and the demands of factories to process those crops, made water a precarious resource. Here I examine water as a vector of social reproduction in the settlement and household. As such water, and the containers that store it, become less a marker of distinction, but active agents in the creation of difference.

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Cite this Record

Water, Hospitality and Difference in Everyday Life. Mark Hauser. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396285)


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min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;