Nataya Friedan

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 9816

Approve Date

April 30, 2019

Project Title

Friedan, Nataya (Stanford U.) "Oil and Water; Flood-craft and Taboo in Houston"

My research is on how engineers, developers, and public officials plan and implement ambitious infrastructure projects to mitigate flooding in Houston in the wake of a series of recent disastrous flooding events. Three “500-year” floods have hit Houston in the last three years according to current Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood risk designations. I am interested in how different stakeholders understand and express the causation of these unfortunate events through law, science, and colloquial explanations. The ecological precarity of urban infrastructure in Houston requires a renegotiation of the city’s relationship to the environment that implicates far beyond the borders of Texas. Along the Gulf Coast, recovery from one storm bleeds into anticipation of the next as increasingly strange and destructive weather events such as wildfires, droughts, and floods are experienced all over the world. In Houston, decisions of what to rebuild, reimburse and protect are negotiated by city, county, state, and federal agencies tasked with flood mitigation. My project is about how politics are redefined as the planning of each infrastructure project includes distributing financial responsibility between taxpayers, developers, and corporations.