King’s Water workshop: Developing synergies and networks

King’s Water hosted a workshop on 28 Oct 2015 to develop synergies and networks with internal and external institutions.  This interdisciplinary workshop was designed to explore potential questions, topics and themes that might bring together colleagues and to start new conversations and pilot projects.  The workshop also included a session for PhD students to brainstorm ideas to complement their ongoing research.

The event offered an opportunity for Masters, PhD, Post-docs and staff to get together.  A short proceedings of the workshop will follow shortly.



PhD student network

  • Meet and Greet/Introductions, with a special welcome for new PhD students
  • Strategies for Improving King’s Water Web Content
  • Reading Group focused on strengthening relationships between physical and social geographies

    King's Water PhD Network

    King’s Water PhD students brainstorm research and outreach projects on 28 October

  • Intrepid Methods Workshop, a proposed partnership between King’s Water and Intrepid Explorers to showcase the types of methods/fieldworks undergrad and masters students might engage with for their dissertations





Nic Bury speaking at King's Water Event

Professor Nic Bury shares research insights and a call to interdisciplinarity at the King’s Water Event on 28 October 2015

Aquatic ecotoxicology and environmental monitoring
Speaker: Dr Nic Bury, Faculty of Life Science & Medicine
Discussant: Dr Mike Chadwick, Department of Geography

Groundwater governance & poverty
Speaker: Dr Luke Whaley, Post-doc researcher KCL/Sheffield
Discussants: Dr Emma Tebbs, Rebecca Peters, Department of Geography



The evening concluded with a wine reception, allowing students and staff to share insights and further ideas for collaboration.

You can bring a Right to Water but you cannot make it drink: Or, Human Rights and Water: Legal Mechanisms Protecting Water Access

Rebecca Peters is a 2014 Marshall Scholar currently a Water Science and Governance MSc candidate with King’s Water. She recently completed an MSc in Poverty and Economic Development at the University of Manchester focused on land use change, water governance, and irrigated agriculture in South Africa. Her previous research in Bolivia and Mexico as a Berkeley Law Human Rights Fellow and Blum Center for Developing Economies Fellow included peri-urban water access and rural sanitation issues. Here, Rebecca reflects on her experience at HH8 facilitating a human rights negotiation simulation.


The inspiration for this session was came from a Harvard Law negotiation simulation for a transboundary water dispute that I attended in Fall 2012. As a current Water Science and Governance MSc candidate at KCL, I wanted to bring the experience of that simulation with deeper concepts of transboundary water justice. The simulation for the Human Rights and Water: Legal Mechanisms Protecting Water Access consequently focused on a Thai financed dam built on the Mekong River in Laos. The session, a simulated negotiation, developed to include non-state actors such as journalists, rural farmers who would be displaced by the dam, and the intergovernmental Mekong River Commission. This dynamic session encouraged critical thought from participants regarding the possibilities and limitations of human rights in advocating for access to water in a transboundary system.


Learning goalsRebecca Facilitate HH8

There were four learning goals for participants of this simulation of a negotiated agreement for dam building along the Mekong River. First, we considered the types of human rights at stake when discussing hegemony, power, and transboundary waters – not just “right to water” but development, free speech, press, demonstration, clean environment, food security, and livelihoods. I directed the session to critically examine multiple forms of exercises of power beyond ‘the state’. Accordingly, the simulation emphasized that multiple kinds of knowledge from basin stakeholders must be incorporated to reach meaningful, lasting agreements to benefit as many people as possible. Lastly, ‘experts’ and powerful actors need to interact with all users throughout the negotiation process.

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King’s Water hosts HH8

HH8 Poster

Nearly one hundred practitioners, researchers, students, and activists gathered at King’s College London 24-25 October 2015 to consider the relation between law and hegemony in a critical and creative atmosphere. King’s Water hosted the Eighth International Workshop on Hydro-Hegemony, “HH8: Law & Hydro-Hegemony”, this past weekend. The event was run as an interactive, participant-led workshop of collaborative learning rather than a traditional academic conference. Participatory small and large group discussions, practical simulations, and teaching sessions explored the following questions:

  1. How does the way international law is made help or hinder its use as a counter-hegemonic tool?
  2. How should law confront hydro-hegemony and power inequalities?
  3. How should law and activism approach issues of state sovereignty in hydro-hegemonic systems?
  4. How does law serve as both a liberating tool of justice and an oppressive instrument of hegemony?
  5. Can international law change, either in content or structure, to become more effective in countering harmful hydro-hegemonic realities? If so, how?
  6. What is the role of international law in governing potentially hegemonic virtual water trades?
  7. How can international law influence water resources distribution in aquifers and basins?
  8. How might human rights discourses and systems help to redress hydro-hegemonic realities?
Rebecca Facilitate HH8

King’s Water Student Rebecca Peters facilitates a negotiation simulation on human rights claims and dams in the Mekong River Basin


PhD Researcher Steph Hawkins from the University of Strathclyde introduces HH8 with a theoretical overview of the hegemonic structure of international law

HH8 Crowd

Students, staff, and practitioners gathered at King’s this weekend to learn from each other around issues of water, power, and law

The Hydro-Hegemony Workshops were founded by the University of East Anglia’s Mark Zeitoun and King’s Water’s own Naho Mirumachi. HH8 was led by King’s Water PhD researcher Becca Farnum along with Steph Hawkins and Mia Tamarin of the London Water Research Group.

For more about the conference, including a concept paper on “The Role of International Law in Hydro-Hegemonic Arrangements“, visit

Welcome to our new Marie Curie Skłodowska Research Fellow!

King’s Water recently welcomed a new post-doctoral research fellow with the support of the Marie Curie Skłodowska actions – Research Fellowship Programme. Maria Rusca previously taught at our partner institution UNESCO-IHE. Maria brings to King’s expertise in urban water governance and sanitation focused on southern and central Africa.

Maria Rusca

From Maria:

I specialise in the dynamics of water and sanitation service provision in urban spaces in the global South. I have undertaken most of my research in Lilongwe (Malawi) and Maputo (Mozambique), but also had the change to work in Kampala (Uganda), and Kumasi (Kenia). I am interested in the role of development aid in the delivery of wash services in urban areas, the politics of socio-technical urban water supply systems and the socio-ecological processes shaping the urban waterscape. Cognisant of the needs of policy makers and practitioners for solutions that work, I aim at bringing research findings into engagement with development establishment and explore implications of findings for policy and practice.

I hold an MA in Political Science (2002), a PhD in Contemporary History from University Roma Tre (2009) and an MSc in Water Management from UNESCO-IHE (2009). My first academic position was at UNESCO-IHE, where I worked as a (Senior) Lecturer in Water Governance and participated in international multidisciplinary research projects, capacity development initiatives and technical assistance programmes, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa. I was Principal Investigator of a research project titled UNHIDE (Uncovering Hidden Dynamics in Slum Environments), dealing with informality and gendered water supply in Lilongwe and Maputo. At UNESCO-IHE I was exposed to colleagues and students with very diverse backgrounds and professional experiences, engaging with water management from different disciplinary perspectives. This triggered my interest in developing innovative methodologies for investigating socio-natural processes in urban spaces in an interdisciplinary way.

Currently I work as a Marie Curie Skłodowska Research Fellow at King’s College on a project titled Investigating Natural, Historical and Institutional Transformations in Cities (INHAbIT-Cities). The project has three main aims, which combine theoretical, methodological and empirical elements: undertake a theoretical synthesis that brings urban political ecology perspectives into engagement with institutional bricolage; explore and test innovative methodologies for tracking informality and investigating socio-natural processes; undertake empirical work and build up a robust body of rigorously researched historical and qualitative data on natural, historical and institutional transformations that have shaped and continuously re-shape water service realities in Lilongwe (Malawi) and Maputo (Mozambique).

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PhD Student Becca Farnum gives Intrepid Explorers Talk

King’s Water PhD Student Becca Farnum gave a lunchtime seminar for the Intrepid Explorers group today. Undergraduates, postgraduate students and researchers, and staff came out to hear about Becca’s time scuba diving in Kuwait and working with hydro-diplomacy activists in Israel and Palestine.

Farnum Intrepid Explorers FlyerBecca asked “To Veil or Not To Veil… Is That Really the Question?” about researcher experiences and values in the Middle East. Over the last seven years of her time at various universities, Becca has spent a total of about six months trotting between countries like Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Kuwait, Jordan, and Turkey. Her visits have included cheers of “Obama! Obama! America! Obama!” in Cairo’s outdoor markets after the democracy speech of 2009, international pickup games of football on the streets of the West Bank, and scuba diving in the Gulf. They’ve also included evacuations to bomb shelters during the 2014 war in Gaza, three-hour security interviews at borders, and cultural restrictions on clothing and physical activity. The talk considered the challenges – and joys – of spending time in cultures generally misunderstood and overly stereotyped in Western media and research. Using stories from her time in the field, Becca reflected on ‘meta methodology’ Farnum IE Talk 15 October 2015 - 3issues, such as how to respectfully approach differing moralities, gender norms, or understandings of law and justice without losing one’s own identity or being untrue to personal values. Contemplating what it means to be intrepid, Becca de-mystified the Middle East even as she encouraged the re-mystification of the familiar.



Coming up: Seminar on “Water, biography and history”

Join King’s Water and the Department of Geography this Wednesday for an exciting, story-focused Human Geography Research Seminar.

Sarah Dry, independent scholar and science writer, will share recent research from a popular book-in-progress on the past 150 years of scientific studies of water and the global climate. She’ll discuss the lives of scientists such as John Tyndall, Charles Piazzi Smyth and Gilbert Walker in relation to their work on glaciers, water vapour, and monsoons. Full of vivid detail, biography is a compellingly readable form but it is often associated with misleadingly heroic narratives of scientific progress. Is biography suited to telling a nuanced history of evolving global concepts of climate? What might a climate-oriented biography of water look like?

Sarah Dry is an award-winning writer and historian of science.  She is the author of The Newton Papers: The Strange and True Odyssey of Isaac Newton’s Manuscripts (OUP, 2014), co-editor of Epidemics: Science, Governance and Social Justice (Earthscan, 2010) and Curie: A Life (Haus, 2004).

This event is free and open to the public. Join us in the King’s Geography Pyramid Room, Strand Campus King’s Building Room KU4.12, from 4:30-6pm this Wednesday 14 October 2015.

HH8 Concept Paper: “Transboundary Water Interaction IV: The Role of International Law in Hydro-Hegemonic Arrangements”

24-25 October, King’s Water will host the Eighth International Workshop on Hydro-Hegemony. “HH8: Law & Hydro-Hegemony” will consider the relation between law and hegemony in a critical and creative atmosphere targeted at students, researchers, and practitioners interested in power and politics over water distribution globally.

The Organising Team has just announced their concept paper on “The Role of International Law in Hydro-Hegemonic Arrangements”.

Programme updates are available here.

HH8 Programme

For more information and to register, visit