BSc Honours Human Geography
Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities
Professor Gordon Waitt
Welland, Louisa, Cultures of Water: Exploring the role of water as a home-making practice of Burmese migrant households in metropolitan NSW,
BSc Honours Human Geography,
Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities,
University of Wollongong, 2015.
This thesis aims to investigate the role of water as a home-making practice in the everyday domestic activities of first generation Burmese migrant households in metropolitan New South Wales, Australia. Investigating domestic water is both an urgent and timely matter. Firstly, this is due to the increasing pressures from climate change, population growth and rising affluence that are reducing the coping abilities of water security networks, particularly in Australia. Secondly, urgency arises from the volume of water that is consumed by Australian households. By focusing on Burmese households, this thesis considers how ethnic minority groups can bring with them ‘imaginative capacities’ in order to use resources, such as water, more sustainably. The conceptual framework this thesis adopts follows an approach which understands water as an embodied homemaking practice, considers the relationships within the household and pays attention to not only practices, but the reciprocal relationships between users and water. Empirical data was sourced through semi-structured interviews and home insights. The results are presented in vignette-style chapters, which provide in-depth understandings of lived experience. Attention is then given to the drinking and personal hygiene practices across all narratives, exploring how water is used to (re)create sense of home and self. The conclusion argues that whilst many Burmese migrants change their practices following the comfort and convenience of Australian life, certain waterrelated practices are retained to maintain roles and responsibilities and to make spaces of the home feel ‘right’. Additionally, the findings point to how through more intimate connections with water, migrants are more mindful and responsible surrounding water use. This may have implications for Australian household sustainability policies. III