Dr. Lucero Radonic and PhD student Cara Jacob featured by College on research revealing how the women of Flint are coping with the water crisis

Department of Anthropology Assistant Professor Lucero Radonic and PhD student Cara Jacob were recently featured by the College of Social Science for their community-based research that focuses on how the women of Flint are still coping with the water crisis. In collaboration with E. Yvonne Lewis, co-director of the Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center Community Core (HFRCC), Dr. Radonic and Jacob conducted a “photovoice” study which examined how women are impacted by the Flint water crisis. Their research revealed the physical, emotional, and economic burdens encountered by these women and the resilience with which they have been confronting abrupt water insecurity. In the feature, Dr. Radonic also describes the importance of involving community participants throughout the research process. This community-based study is detailed in an article recently published by Dr. Radonic and Jacob in Water Alternatives, titled “Examining the Cracks in Universal Water Coverage: Women Document the Burdens of Household Water Insecurity” (abstract below).

To read the College of Social Science feature, visit: https://socialscience.msu.edu/news-events/news/2021-03-25.html

To read the research article in Water Alternatives, visit: https://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/alldoc/articles/vol14/v14issue1/618-a14-1-13/file

Abstract: “Universal access to safe drinking water is assumed to be a defining characteristic of cities in the Global North. This article documents the daily challenges facing working class women in Flint, Michigan, when the promise of modern water infrastructure cracks. In 2014, in order to reduce costs, Flint’s drinking water source was switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River. This change, and specifically the way it was managed, resulted in contamination of the water supply with lead and pathogens. While the experience of Flint is now an emblematic case of water insecurity in the Global North, it is not unique. Through a case study developed in the context of a community-based participatory research project, this article details how water insecurity transferred the burden of clean water provisioning back to individual households, and specifically to women. Rather than being able to rely on the labour and technical expertise that have rendered water safe in the modern city, Flint residents were abruptly made responsible for ensuring their own water security. We detail how the Flint water crisis brought about a ‘new normal’; we consider the ways in which it gave rise to a new relationship to potable water that was characterised by a (re)turn to bottled or filtered water (from tap water) and a shift in who is responsible for the labour necessary to render water safe. The women’s testimonies that we present here illustrate how, when modern uniform water fails, people begin to see heterogeneous waters.”

04.13.21