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Edisson Aguilar Torres

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Community-managed Water Supply during the Twentieth Century: A State and

Technological History of Colombia

I am interested in the history of the state as material history. I understand the state not as

an entity wholly separated from the civil sphere but as a network that stabilizes gradually,

absorbing diverse forms of social organization in a nonlinear historical process. Therefore,

I believe in researching materialized practices performed by concrete institutions and

social actors instead of focusing on normative prescriptions (laws, public policy documents).

My current research is about the history of community water supply in Colombia, exploring

how the state and community institutions have interacted to co-produce water supply

technologies, as well as the role that expert and popular knowledge had in such a process.   

1st Supervisor: Prof. David Edgerton        



I studied sociology and a master’s in social studies of Science at the National University of Colombia. I have always been interested in the relation between the state, technology, and environmental conflicts. My previous research has been on controversies between experts and citizens about pollution and mining, but also on state and popular initiatives for environmental education. I taught sociological theory and Colombian history at Colombian universities for several years. Outside academia, I have worked in behavioural and cultural change interventions, survey design and analysis, and pedagogical projects at Colombian NGOs and public institutions.

Publications (Articles/reviews):

El debate público sobre la minería en Colombia: el rol de los expertos en controversias socioambientales

Riesgo y experticia en la controversia sobre la presencia de mercurio en las fuentes hídricas de la zona rural de Ciudad Bolívar(Mochuelo Alto y Bajo)

Papers Given/Exhibitions/Public engagement:


Society for Social Studies of Science y Esocite - 4s Annual Meeting 2014 – The multiple ontology of water. Mercury, community water supply systems and territory in the district of Ciudad Bolívar, Bogotá.

Primer Congreso Esocite Lalics XIII Jornadas 2021 - ¿Existe el mercurio? Controversia en torno a la provisión comunitaria de agua en la zona rural de Ciudad Bolívar, Bogotá D.C.

Primer Congreso Esocite Lalics XIII Jornadas 2021 - Estado, tecnología y provisión comunitaria de agua en Colombia.


Grants, Awards, and Prizes:

Hans Rausing Scholarship at CHoSTM (1+3).

Other professional affiliations and activities:

Grupo de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia, la Tecnología y la Medicina (GESCTM) – Colombia.

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