"Watershed Encounters"

Trombley, Jeremy | from Multimedia Library Collection:

Trombley, Jeremy. “Watershed Encounters.” Environmental Humanities 10, no. 1 (2018): 107-28. https://doi.org/10.1215/22011919-4385489.

The term watershed is derived from the German Wasserscheide, which means “parting of the waters” and refers to the geographic boundary that separates one drainage basin from another. It is from this definition that we derive the concept of “watershed moments”—events that seem to change the course of history. I suggest that the intersection of temporal and spatial relationships embedded within the watershed concept reveals the interaction between modernist conceptions of space and time, enabling the persistence of trauma and violence that characterizes modernity. In this article, I examine a series of watershed encounters in the Chesapeake Bay region and how they transform our understanding of the environmental problems that face the estuary and its landscape. I argue that the “restoration” effort currently at work in the Chesapeake Bay watershed fails to grapple with the spatial and temporal ruptures that created these problems, and therefore it simply perpetuates the trauma and violence of modernity. However, through the praxis of watershed encounters described in this article, I argue that we can penetrate the spatial and temporal logics of modernity and begin the recuperative work of finding what Deborah Bird Rose refers to as “alternatives to our embeddedness in violence.” (Text from author’s abstract)

© Jeremy Trombley 2018. Environmental Humanities is available online only and is published under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).