The law of the river: exploring more-than-human agency in water governance in the Riverland, South Australia

Ms Nicola Perry1

1University Of Sydney, Sydney, Australia


Place-based agency has been recognised as contributing to the creation and enactment of environmental law (Bartel, 2018). Using preliminary fieldwork conducted in the Riverland area of South Australia along the Murray River, and with a focus on water and wetlands, this talk will pay attention to the influence of more-than-human actors in shaping water governance. The Riverland is a place where water, in forms historic and current, local and distant, plentiful and absent, is central to local identity. Both locally and in the wider Murray Darling Basin, plural regulatory landscapes have evolved alongside physical or ‘natural’ constraints shaping the ways in which river operators seek to move water around the system. This talk will consider discourses and materialities wherein more than human actors were observed to shape the use and management of environmental water.


Nicola Perry is PhD Student at the University of Sydney. She has a keen interest in legal geography and human-environment relationships, with a focus on wetland settings. Following her honours year investigating gender-differentiated impacts of conservation in a protected wetland in Cambodia, Nicola’s current research examines the governance and social impacts of the delivery of environmental water to wetlands on private property in the Murray Darling Basin.

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