Gardening the World: Agency, Identity and the Ownership of Water

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Berghahn Books, 2009 - Business & Economics - 317 pages

Around the world, intensifying development and human demands for fresh water are placing unsustainable pressures on finite resources. Countries are waging war over transboundary rivers, and rural and urban communities are increasingly divided as irrigation demands compete with domestic desires. Marginal groups are losing access to water as powerful elites protect their own interests, and entire ecosystems are being severely degraded. These problems are particularly evident in Australia, with its industrialised economy and arid climate. Yet there have been relatively few attempts to examine the social and cultural complexities that underlie people's engagements with water. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in two major Australian river catchments (the Mitchell River in Cape York, and the Brisbane River in southeast Queensland), this book examines their major water using and managing groups: indigenous communities, farmers, industries, recreational and domestic water users, and environmental organisations. It explores the issues that shape their different beliefs, values and practices in relation to water, and considers the specifically cultural or sub-cultural meanings that they encode in their material surroundings. Through an analysis of each group's diverse efforts to 'garden the world', it provides insights into the complexities of human-environmental relationships.

 

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Contents

A Process of Engagement
28
Governing Water
54
Indigenous Fluidscapes
87
Farming Water
119
Manufacturing Water
158
Recreating Water
193
Saving Water
237
Conclusion Gardening the World
274
References
293
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About the author (2009)

Veronica Strang is a Professor of Anthropology and Executive Director of the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University. An environmental anthropologist, she has written extensively on water, land and resource issues in Australia and the UK, and is the author of Uncommon Ground: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental Values (Berg 1997), and The Meaning of Water (Berg 2004). She also co-edited, with Mark Busse, the ASA Monograph, Ownership and Appropriation.

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