Transitional Fears: Water, Surveillance and the Abject in Australia

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Unplaces can be mapped and the bodies within them governed. In-between places, and the bodies that populate them, continuously evade signification. They disturb and worry us through their occupation of transitional states and constant challenging of borders and boundaries. Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world, yet we are constantly waiting for the drought to break so things can return to normal. Such attitudes signify that we occupy an in-between space. As ‘normality’ continues to be put on hold, the uncertainty over water supply has prompted many to exercise a great degree of self-discipline in their water use. The imposition of permanent water restrictions in many areas has led to water usage being policed by local government officers and vigilant(e) neighbours. Surveillance, however, is not enough, as in-between places and their populations are not easily contained and managed. Future water supplies in Australia cannot be secured through a reduction in consumption alone, forcing many inland cities to consider recycling water. However, the idea of ingesting that which we have expelled from our bodies, homes and lives with the press of a dual-flush button represents a significant transgression of our corporeal integrity. Expressed in the vernacular as the ‘yuck factor,’ the population’s health fears in relation to recycled water are not easily allayed by scientific facts and the assurances of politicians. Drawing on the work of Foucualt and Kristeva, this paper theorises approaches and attitudes to water conservation in Australia and argues that the issue is dominated by a discourse of fear engendered by our occupation of transitional bodies in an in-between space.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnAustralia Conference Proceedings
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherCultural Studies Association of Australasia
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)1740882539
Publication statusPublished - 2006
EventUnAustralia:Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Annual Conference - Canberra, Australia
Duration: 6 Dec 20068 Dec 2006


ConferenceUnAustralia:Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Annual Conference


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