New book tells a lyrical history of water

13 December 2014

With summer in full swing in Australia and the ever-present threat of drought, ANU researcher Dr Shé Hawke says now is the time to truly understand and appreciate water.

Her new book Aquamorphia: Falling for Water is a literary, scholarly work, telling the story of water in its many images and guises.

It takes a unique approach to understanding water, drawing on diverse fields including Western mythology, feminist philosophy and Australian Indigenous knowledge to create a narrative of the history of water since the beginning of time.

“The book is poetic prose as much as it is aquatic research. It takes the reader on a journey around the world but is very Australia-centric,” Dr Hawke said.

The book includes references familiar to Canberrans, including the 2003 fires, the Cotter River and the South Coast.

Indigenous knowledge is also embedded throughout the book. Dr Hawke consulted extensively with Kamilaroi Water Scientist Brad Moggridge and other Indigenous elders during her research.

“We can learn a lot from Indigenous communities as they know the history of drought cycles intimately as they’ve been watching them for thousands of years,” she said.

“The take-home message from the book is that we’ve got to take really good care of our water. Know your water, respect your water, love water, because without it we can’t survive.”

Dr Hawke has had a fascination with water since researching Greek mythology and the myth of Athena in her honours and PhD research, uncovering the true mother of the goddess Athena, and myths relating to the creation of the earth.

Dr Hawke is an award-winning poet and trans-disciplinary scholar, environmental and peace activist currently working at the Research School of Social Sciences at ANU.

An academic version of the book is in the works.