Maria Rusca

researcher at Department of Earth Sciences, Program for Air, Water and Landscape Sciences; Hydrology

Visiting address:
Geocentrum, Villavägen 16
752 36 Uppsala
Postal address:
Villavägen 16
752 36 UPPSALA

Short presentation

Maria Rusca is a researcher in Water and Society. Her work focuses on the politics of urban waters, large water infrastructures and hydrological extremes in various geographical contexts and at different scales. She takes an interdisciplinary approach to further understandings of uneven distribution of disaster risk and inequalities in access to basic services, and how these are experienced. She was PI of INHAbIT cities and UNHIDE, focused on the dynamics of urban waters in sub-Saharan Africa.

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My courses


My research portfolio mostly encompasses interdisciplinary studies on urban water inequalities, ranging from uneven distribution of hydrological disaster and risk, large water infrastructure and socio-ecological relations at different scales, gendered water supply and politics of urban waters. My project INHAbIT Cities explored historical processes and transformations that have shaped water service configurations, the politics of socio-technical urban water supply systems and the socio-ecological processes shaping the urban waterscape. INHAbIT Cities took an interdisciplinary approach and by developing new methodologies and conceptual approaches to integrate natural and social science perspectives in the analylis of uneven waterscapes.

My second research line concerns visual methods in water research and outreach. Visual methods are becoming increasingly popular in social sciences, but are still little explored when it comes to water related studies. They are effective in complementing talk tased methods and 'visualising' inequalities, as they capture things that are overlooked in a text, such as gaze, body posture, gesture, tones, interactions, sound, and, thus, the context and culture in which a given phenomenon is embedded (Garrett, 2010, p. 1; Jewitt, 2012; Prosser, 1998). As the photographer Salgado eloquently argued, “[before using the camera] I saw the phenomena, I saw the movements. I saw everything in front of me, but I was parallel to it. With the camera, I was inside it. [...] Something was happening, I was photographing, I was part of it; I was living it from inside”. Further, videography research is carried out with rather than on research subjects, thus reducing the power differential between the researcher and the participants. Last I produce documentaries because of their transformation potential: they connect people to others trough individual and collective stories and they are an efficient and engaging way to communicate with decision-makers.


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