Document Type

Honors Project On-Campus Access Only


When Lavoisier “discovered” the water molecule, Western chemistry became considered the only legitimate paradigm to characterize and control water quality. Important local realities and values were ignored and discredited in the name of apolitical scientific objectivity, at times resulting in catastrophic impacts on a community. This thesis unpacks the cultural and historical roots of modern water quality science, the values and methods implicit in that paradigm, and how it renders other forms of knowledge and values about water illegitimate. In particular, case studies including the Flint water crisis, arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh, and a mining threat in Ecuador highlight the limitations of the current paradigm.


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