Colin Hoag

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Smith College

Grant number

Gr. 10054

Approve Date

October 2, 2020

Project Title

Hoag, Colin (Smith College) "Landscapes of a National Natural Resource in Lesotho, the World’s First Water-Exporting Country"

COLIN HOAG, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2020 to aid research and writing on ‘Landscapes of a National Natural Resource in Lesotho, The World’s First Water-Exporting Country.’ The Fellowship supported writing up a book manuscript, The Fluvial Imagination: A Crisis of Lesotho’s Water-Export Economy . For a century, Lesotho acted as a labor reserve for South Africa’s mining industries. As mining employment collapsed in the 1990s, Lesotho signed a treaty with South Africa to build a series of dams and divert water to arid Johannesburg, the subcontinent’s economic epicenter. Lesotho had become the world’s first ‘water-exporting country.’ As water rose in national importance, however, its very nature came into question, inciting debates about how it flows across the landscape. Conservation experts worry that soil erosion and reservoir sedimentation might imperil this massive project, but the extent and causes of erosion are contested. Whether blame should lie with rural livestock production or with changes in Lesotho’s rainfall regime, what is clear is that Lesotho’s water-export economy has exposed a crisis of environmental interpretation. A fluvial imagination, its author shows, is crucial to navigating water issues in the Anthropocene. The manuscript is forthcoming in Fall 2022 with University of California Press.