Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationNorthern Illinois U.
Grant numberGr. 9739
Approve DateOctober 23, 2018
Project TitleMcKee, Dr. Emily K., Northern Illinois U., DeKalb, IL - To aid research on 'Narratives of Plenty: Desalination, Techno-Optimism, and Palestinian-Israeli Waterscapes'
EMILY McKEE, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, was awarded funding in October 2018 to aid research on “Narratives of Plenty: Desalination, Techno-Optimism, and Palestinian-Israeli Waterscapes.” Around the world, governments are looking to desalination to solve current and anticipated water scarcity problems. What hopes, plans, and fears does this relatively new technology inspire for the water users being asked to embrace it? Based in Israel and Palestine, where capital and rhetorical investment in desalination is quickly gaining intensity, this project uses ethnography, with a strong focus on narrative analysis, to understand what happens when the optimistic narratives circulated by desalinations’ proponents travel away from centers of government and industry and into more marginalized communities. First, how do Israeli and Palestinian residents interpret, accept, and resist dominant narratives of desalination as a techno-environmental fix? Second, building from the understanding that the stories we tell about future benefits and risks of new technologies profoundly shape how we interact with them in the present, how do people’s visions of a desalinated future affect their engagement with contemporary water justice and water conservation campaigns? This study combines textual analysis with interviews and participant observation to compare the perspectives of water specialists, governors, and residents across lines of nationality, career, place of residence, gender, and generation.