Combining Political Ecology and ‘Mésologie’ for a New Geography of Rivers?

  • Flore Lafaye de Micheaux University of Lausanne
  • Christian Kull University of Lausanne
Keywords: river, Anthropocene, political ecology, mésologie, hydrosocial cycle


How do we rethink the integrated management of river basins? This article is mainly a theoretical contribution that aims to reflect on ways of knowing rivers in the context of the Anthropocene. The authors suggest a new framework based on post-positivist geographies for a deeper understanding of environmental, political, and social conflicts related to rivers. They highlight the potential of combining political ecology and its hydrosocial cycle framework with the mésologie of Augustin Berque. This approach, inspired by non-modern ontologies, helps to account for the full texture of the relationship between society and rivers. It emphasizes human–environment relations and the concept of “milieu”. It particularly captures the role of lived experience in river–human relationships, by accounting for the emotions and interpretations that link people to rivers both collectively and individually. This is particularly appropriate in the Indian context where rivers are ritually revered.


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Author Biographies

Flore Lafaye de Micheaux, University of Lausanne

Institute for Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne, Bâtiment Geopolis, UNIL-Mouline, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland; International Union for Conservation of Nature (Switzerland); French Institute of Pondicherry (India)

Christian Kull, University of Lausanne

Institute for Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne, Bâtiment Geopolis, UNIL-Mouline, CH-1015 Lausanne


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Special Section: New Epistemologies of Water in India