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Join water anthropologist Veronica Strang at her book launch of Water BeingsFrom Nature Worship to the Environmental Crisis.

Early human relationships with water were expressed through beliefs in serpentine aquatic deities: rainbow-coloured, feathered or horned serpents, giant anacondas and dragons. Representing the powers of water, these beings were bringers of life and sustenance, world creators, ancestors, guardian spirits and law makers. Worshipped and appeased, they embodied people’s respect for water and its vital role in sustaining all living things.

Yet today, though we still recognize that ‘water is life’, fresh- and saltwater ecosystems have been critically compromised by human activities. This major study of water beings, and what has happened to them in different cultural and historical contexts, demonstrates how and why some – but not all – societies have moved from worshipping water to wreaking havoc upon it, and asks what we can do to turn the tide.

“After over a decade of obsessing about this topic I have (at last) managed to finish my book Water Beings, and this was published a few weeks ago by Reaktion Books. With 130 colour images it certainly looks gorgeous, and the project has turned up some findings that I think/hope might be of interest”.

The Royal Anthropological Institute has decided to organise a special seminar/book launch for Water Beings on May 18th, 4–6 pm. This will be a hybrid event, so that those in London can attend in person and others virtually.

If you are interested, you just need to sign up on the RAI website at https://www.therai.org.uk/events/events-calendar/eventdetail/842/-/book-launch-veronica-strang

Veronica Strang is a cultural anthropologist and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. Her research explores human relationships with water, and her previous books include The Meaning of Water (2004) and Water: Nature and Culture (Reaktion, 2015).

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