The opening chapter of this book makes the intellectual and political argument for a more critical understanding of seawater desalination as an emerging phenomenon of water governance. Its purpose, in this sense, is to politicise seawater. The chapter provides an overview of the historic and contemporary development of desalting technologies and the global desalination industry. We argue that, rather than seeing desalination as a water management ‘solution’, it should instead be understood as a socio-technical and political ecological ‘fix’, which allows cities, regions and countries to overcome some of the hydrological barriers to growth and accumulation, while creating or intensifying other social and ecological contradictions. These contradictions, we demonstrate, revolve around the governance of water, privatisation and commercialisation, the water-energy nexus, and marine ecology. Finally, we summarise the substantive chapters included in the book.
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Joe Williams and Erik Swyngedouw
Mat Coleman and John Agnew
In this introductory chapter, we explore the question of power as a plural rather than singular phenomenon, and what approaching “power in the plural” might mean for geographers and others interested in the relationship between power and space. By exploring recent debates in political geography, as well as anticipating the wider and more daring arguments made by the authors collected together in this volume, we argue that the spatiality of power is never singular and easily modeled according to straightforward theoretical bullet-points, but instead is best approached as plural, contextually emergent and relational, and as deserving of concrete yet transductive investigation in particular spacings and timings. One of our core interests – drawing on a variety of intellectual sources, including critical realism, Henri Lefebvre’s discussion of power and space, and more recent research on topology and so-called new materialisms – is to move beyond what we see as a rather limited discussion of power and space in political geography, and as such to put political geography “in question” as the taken-for-granted “home” of theorizing the relationship between power and space.
Anssi Paasi, John Harrison and Martin Jones
Region and territory have been major keywords of geographical thinking, methodology and research practice since the institutionalization of geography as an academic discipline at the end of the nineteenth century. But what is a region? How are they constructed? How do regions relate to territory? Are regions and territories still relevant in today’s modern world characterized by all kinds of flows and networks? How are regions and territories affected and shaped by social forces? What does it mean to study the geographies of regions and territories? What does the future hold for these spatial categories? These are just some of the key questions, which have not only shaped the long intellectual history of studying regions and territories, they are as relevant today as they have ever been. In this chapter we chart the increased utility of the region and territory in different social, political and cultural realms. We trace the evolving geographies of regions and territories through five distinct chronological phases – traditional regional geographies, regional science, new regional geography, new regionalism and new regional worlds – before revealing the dynamics underpinning a regional resurgence in globalization. In the final part, we contend that contemporary geographies of regions and territories are marked by distinct regional worlds, diverse regional worlds, and decentred regional futures. Finally, by taking stock of the current state of debates on the theory and empirical dimensions of regions and territories, we make the case for a new phase of consolidated regional geographies.
If we want to address landscape democracy, we need an awareness of the different frames for understanding democratic legitimacy as developed and discussed in political theory. This chapter is about the place of civil society in different contemporary approaches to democracy and the consequences this creates for democratic planning. After presenting four ideal typical approaches to democracy – the liberal, participatory, deliberative and radical – the place of civil society in a generic planning process is discussed. The claim is made that although planning processes that follow a liberal democratic framework may qualify as democratic at a theoretical level, the understanding of a landscape as ‘an area, as perceived by people’ implies a necessity to include elements of participatory, deliberative and possibly radical democracy to gain democratic legitimacy. The chapter concludes by pointing to possible measures public planners may take to enhance democratic planning.