Dealing with Drought: Water Politics, Human (Im)mobilities and Adaptation Strategies

Call for Papers for the International Research Conference on Dealing with Drought: Water Politics, Human (Im)mobilities and Adaptation Strategies

28-29 April 2023 (Augsburg University) Hosted by the Chair of Human Geography and Transformation Research (Augsburg University) with support of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Rural communities worldwide are increasingly suffering from water crises: Declining access to drinking water, crop failures, damage to ecosystems, loss of habitats and health risks are among the many negative manifestations of water scarcity. Human-made climate change is undermining water availability through rising temperatures, prolonged droughts, and heat waves, while simultaneously increasing water demand. Human interferences in the water cycle and political decisions, such as the construction of dams, extension of irrigation agriculture or water pricing, can put certain regions or populations in threatening situations and exacerbate water crises.

At this backdrop, this conference aims to focus water crises from the perspective of migration studies, political ecology, resource geography, risk research and socio-ecological studies.

The relationship between water scarcity, droughts, and people's decisions to migrate or stay is multifaceted and complex. For some, migration may be a successful adaptation strategy, while others lack the capabilities to move. Also, subjective aspects like place attachment or emotional well-being affect (im)mobility decision-making and may foster the preference to stay. Despite the improving evidencebase, the complex realities of environmental (im)mobilities warrant further investigation.

The subject of political ecology is based on the premise that socio-economic and ecological problems are the result of actions conducted and implemented by various actors. Water scarcity is not always the sole consequence of climate change but is often related to management of water resources. As Jamie Linton provocatively said: “Water is what we make of it”. These relationships require further research efforts, as control over and use of water increasingly lead to conflicts worldwide.

This conference seeks interdisciplinary contributions from the social environmental sciences (human geography, anthropology, political ecology, etc.) to exchange insights, concepts, and ideas on

  • human migration and immobility in the context of water crises and droughts, and
  • issues in the realm of water management and political ecology.

We also aim to examine examples of successful adaptation that offer a positive prospect for sustainable solutions despite climate change.

The conference offers the opportunity for paper presentations as well as space for discussion and networking beyond disciplinary boundaries and is aimed at experts in the field, Postdocs, PhD students and interested students. To cover the widest possible range of perspectives, case studies as well as critical and conceptual issues are welcome!

We intend an edited publication based on paper presentations and discussions, featuring written contributions from participants.

Paper Submissions

Please send your presentation proposal (English) with title, abstract (max 400 words) and a short bio by January 15, 2023, to:

Early submissions are welcome. Successful applicants will be notified on a rolling basis by February 1st , 2023.


The conference will take place at Augsburg University (28-29 April 2023). Detailed information regarding potential COVID regulations will be communicated well in advance of the event.


We look forward to hearing from you! Matthias Schmidt, Sebastian Transiskus, Robert Gonda