Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
Poisonous contamination is contained in the black smelly mud of The Gowanus Canal. It is because of this mud that the site earned its status as a superfund cleanup project in 2011. Infected with Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH’s) this mud is the source of EPA authority and the reason they have arrived. While City agencies, PRP’s, environmental designers and local non-profit partners contest the EPA’s infrastructural requirements all rely on modelling with little or no empirical data to substantiate their claims to superior science or design; this is because the canal has historically been viewed as a sewage dump and sewage water is a low, unwanted class of thing. It is not measured, metered or studied in the same way as the water of a river, stream or estuary. In the grand hydroscope of York city, the canal is a hybrid body of fluid in the process of becoming, but not yet being, a waterway.
Globally urban sewageways are being reclaimed or, as in the case of the Gowanus canal, reinvented entirely. This paper is based on ongoing field research which exams the ways in which power is inscribed in the mud and water of the canal and is reflected in choices about which scientific data has and has not been collected about this body of fluid.