Qanat: a sustainable groundwater supply system

Habashiani, Rasoul (2011) Qanat: a sustainable groundwater supply system. Masters (Research) thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

Qanat is an ancient Iranian groundwater supply system which has diffused to numerous areas outside of Iran as well. In addition to its eco-friendly techno-physical structure, the Qanat system includes many socio-institutional and ritual dimensions such as Boneh and Qanat marriage rites. The present research reviews the current literature on the Qanat system to investigate the impacts of technical, socio-institutional, and intellectual/ritual aspects of the Qanat system on water resources. This traditional system has been replaced with inefficient technologies and rural institutions through a countrywide change during the 1960s. By including the process of water management modernisation in Iran, a comparative assessment of Qanat and its modern alternatives will become part of this study too. In this way, my research can indicate while the integrated sociocultural and technological system of Qanat sustainably provided water for millennia, contemporary water management systems have been demonstrated to be unsustainable. I draw on a conceptual framework which derives from ecological anthropology and Traditional Ecological Knowledge studies (referred to as "TEK studies" in this research). These approaches provide the most applicable conceptual framework for my project because of their involvement in natural resource management. Moreover, some qualitative research concepts, for instance contextual analysis, are used for understanding the functions of the Qanat system as a sociocultural process. Also, I apply a literature review approach to examine some comparative traditional water systems across the world, together with the process of their replacement with contemporary modern paradigms. The literature review chapter can reveal that the current institutional arrangements of water management suffer from similar problems in many countries. By investigating the collapse of other traditional water systems, I argue that the socio-technical shift of water management in Iran originates from a worldwide transformation in the twentieth century. Based on the study of the Qanat system and other cases, I identify a worldwide distinction between traditional and modern water paradigm. This division framework is useful to categorise and compare opposing socio-technical beliefs and practices of two traditional and modern paradigms. By use of this division, the ways in which the Western-oriented paradigms mismanage water can be discovered more comprehensively. Using the above range of methods and approaches, my study of Qanat intends to fill a considerable gap in the Qanat literature which results from the dominance of the engineering discourses. I employ the above ideas, concepts, and frameworks to argue that the modern alternatives of local paradigms have been unsuccessful at incorporating local communities into water issues. This means that there is a need to move beyond the mainstream quantitative and technology-centred water management which has divided a holistic body into disconnected elements. My research also suggests some avenues for applying the Qanat system in modern contexts in terms of local communities' engagement in the water management process. In brief, this research can be described as a study of the causes and consequences of the water mismanagement crisis at the Iranian and global scale.

Item ID: 32126
Item Type: Thesis (Masters (Research))
Keywords: Qanat, Iran; sustainability; sustainable water resources; ecological anthropology; qualitative research; resource management
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2014 04:37
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160101 Anthropology of Development @ 33%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 34%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 34%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960706 Rural Water Policy @ 33%
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