Special Issue "Critical Water Resource Geography"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Use and Scarcity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Daanish Mustafa
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, King's College London
Interests: Critical water resource geographies; Environmental hazards and climate risk; Critical geographies of violence and terror; Problematising the environment and development
Dr. Sarah J. Halvorson
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, University of Montana, Missoula, United States
Interests: Community water security; environmental risks and hazards; gender and development; geography education; glacier governance; human dimensions of climate change; hydro-social systems; mountain geography; qualitative methods; regional geography (African Sahel, Central and South Asia, Rocky Mountain West); rural livelihoods and resilience; transboundary water governance

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Water resource geography has undergone a considerable transformation since its original moorings in engineering and the pure sciences. From earlier pragmatist engagements to subsequent political economic, cultural, post-structural and materialist turns, the conceptual repertoirs of water resource geographers and the spatial scales at which they engage have become very diverse. This Special Issue is a call to highlight the ‘critical’ aspects of water resource geography across conceptual approaches. Being chronologically newer does not imply being conceptually richer, more insightful or contributing to human emancipation. Following Blomley (2009), we posit that the critical in critical geography implies anti-positivist epistemologies pressed into the service of contributing to social justice and human liberation from oppression. Critical implies a politicised practice of scholarship with a sharp eye towards questions of power and the struggles of those with less power against the powerful. Within the above understanding of critical, we also include concerns with the non-human world, insofar as the non-human too is deeply embedded and constitutive of human societies.

We invite contributions in the critical geography tradition that speak to how questions of class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and race are contribtive towards access to water and differential vulnerability to water related hazards. We hope that all contributions will be alive to the question of scale and how power politics as scalar politics may speak to critical-water-related concepts, e.g., hydro-social cycles, waterscapes, hydro-hazardscapes, hydro-hegemony, the infra-structural turn, the materialist turn, range of choice, and so on. We welcome agenda-setting contributions that expand the present repertoir of critical concepts in use across a range of water resource inquiries, from domestic water supply to irrigation to water ecologies.

Dr. Daanish Mustafa
Dr. Sarah J. Halvorson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • critical geography
  • human/non-human interactions
  • access
  • scale
  • social power

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Critical Water Geographies: From Histories to Affect
Water 2020, 12(7), 2001; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12072001 - 15 Jul 2020
Abstract
Water resource geography has undergone a considerable transformation since its original moorings in engineering and the pure sciences. As this Special Issue demonstrates, many intellectual and practical gains are being made through a politicized practice of water scholarship. This work by geographers integrates [...] Read more.
Water resource geography has undergone a considerable transformation since its original moorings in engineering and the pure sciences. As this Special Issue demonstrates, many intellectual and practical gains are being made through a politicized practice of water scholarship. This work by geographers integrates a critical social scientific perspective on agency, power relations, method and most importantly the affective/emotional aspects of water with profound familiarity and expertise across sub-disciplines and regions. Here, the ‘critical’ aspects of water resource geography imply anti-positivist epistemologies pressed into the service of contributing to social justice and liberation from water-related political and material struggles. The five papers making up this Special Issue address these substantive and theoretical concerns across South and West Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and North America. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Water Resource Geography)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle
From Building Dams to Fetching Water: Scales of Politicization in the Indus Basin
Water 2020, 12(5), 1351; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051351 - 10 May 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Water flows through and informs the socio-spatial geography of the Indus waterscape in Pakistan in myriad ways. This paper argues that state-led water development has historically attempted to bypass political conflict by invoking techno-scientific authority to render water development as a purely techno-managerial [...] Read more.
Water flows through and informs the socio-spatial geography of the Indus waterscape in Pakistan in myriad ways. This paper argues that state-led water development has historically attempted to bypass political conflict by invoking techno-scientific authority to render water development as a purely techno-managerial pursuit. By invoking the scientifically objective, depoliticized knowledge of water resources, the state shifts the politics of water to the domain of politics of knowledge to disarm communities with cultural and political claims to water. These attempts to “depoliticize” are always accompanied by attempts to repoliticize water—both from within the state apparatus and from society more generally. The paper stages an engagement between the historical geography of the Indus and the field of critical water geography to develop an understanding of politicization as inter-scalar and relatively insensitive to changes in the ruling political regime. We present a novel periodization of the hydrosocial relations in the Indus Basin that highlight periods of relative continuity and coherence in terms of the political regime in the water sector. Despite the significance of these shifts for political history, we argue that the historical geography of water reveals a techno-managerial knowledge/value structure with a deep and structural continuity. Using a scale-sensitive understanding of politicization to analyze the historical and contemporary geography of the Indus allows us to go behind shifts in political regime to identify the deeper structures at play. These are the epistemological and ideological structures that produce a dynamic of attempted depoliticization and repoliticization in the Indus Basin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Water Resource Geography)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Guarding the Sons of Empire: Military–State–Society Relations in Water, Sanitation and Health Programs of mid-19th-Century India
Water 2020, 12(2), 429; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020429 - 05 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Drinking water supply and sanitation have had a strong association with military institutions in South Asia from the colonial period to the present. This paper shows how military-state-society relationships created spaces of differential water access and sanitation burdens in mid-19th-century cantonments in ways [...] Read more.
Drinking water supply and sanitation have had a strong association with military institutions in South Asia from the colonial period to the present. This paper shows how military-state-society relationships created spaces of differential water access and sanitation burdens in mid-19th-century cantonments in ways that involved complex gender relations. In comparison with previous research, we argue that privileged military enclaves were segregated but never fully separated from larger urban water and sanitation systems. We use historical geographic methods to review the evolving role of military sanitation regulations in cantonments from late-18th-century policies of the East India Company (EIC) through mid-19th-century rule by the British Crown, during which time military cantonments, regulations, and formal monitoring reports were established. Close reading of the British Army Medical Department’s Statistical, Sanitary, and Medical Reports (Sanitary Reports) in the 1860s then shows how military-state-society relations diverged from civilian public health programs in ways that persist to some extent to the present day. Health advisors, some of them women, pursued an ideology and tactics to “guard the sons of empire”, from what they perceived to be a disease-filled landscape of “lurking evils”, “choleric attacks”, and “native offensives”. We conclude with a discussion of both continuities and change in the relationships between military and civilian public health reforms beyond the barracks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Water Resource Geography)
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Open AccessArticle
Household Water Security: An Analysis of Water Affect in the Context of Hydraulic Fracturing in West Virginia, Appalachia
Water 2020, 12(1), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010147 - 03 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Hydraulic fracturing has been booming in the last decade in the United States. While natural gas extraction and production has improved the national energy security, it has raised questions around the water security of those communities where extraction is taking place. Both scientists [...] Read more.
Hydraulic fracturing has been booming in the last decade in the United States. While natural gas extraction and production has improved the national energy security, it has raised questions around the water security of those communities where extraction is taking place. Both scientists and residents are concerned about hydraulic fracturing’s impacts on surface- and groundwater, especially regarding how hydraulic fracturing impacts residents’ access to safe household well water. In the past decade, the Marcellus Shale has been developed in Northwestern West Virginia, yet the human geography dimensions of oil and gas extraction in West Virginia remain to be investigated. This article, based on 30 in-depth interviews, explores household groundwater insecurity due to hydraulic fracturing experienced by residents (i.e., mineral owners, surface owners, and concerned citizens) in Northwestern West Virginia. The concept of water affect is used to attend to the emotional and subjective dimensions of water security by unveiling the power, emotional struggles, and mental stress inherent in water testing practices and environmental regulation around hydraulic fracturing. Water testing is typically conducted by contractors hired by oil and gas companies, but it is mired in delayed test results and incorrect testing procedures, triggering residents’ negative feelings toward oil and gas companies. This article furthers the understanding of water security, commonly defined in terms of individual access to adequate water quality and quantity, by studying Appalachian residents’ anxieties about well water contamination and uncertainty around the long-term water impacts of hydraulic fracturing. By investigating the uneven power relations around groundwater in West Virginia, the emotional experiences and responses are articulated to further the notion of water affect as impacting household groundwater security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Water Resource Geography)
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Open AccessArticle
Interdisciplinary Critical Geographies of Water: Capturing the Mutual Shaping of Society and Hydrological Flows
Water 2019, 11(10), 1973; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11101973 - 22 Sep 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
In light of recent calls for an increased commitment to interdisciplinary endeavors, this paper reflects on the implications of a critical geography of water that crosses social and natural sciences. Questions on how to best research the relationship between water and society have [...] Read more.
In light of recent calls for an increased commitment to interdisciplinary endeavors, this paper reflects on the implications of a critical geography of water that crosses social and natural sciences. Questions on how to best research the relationship between water and society have been raised both in the field of critical geographies of water and sociohydrology. Yet, there has been little crossover between these disciplinary perspectives. This, we argue, may be partly explained by the fact that interdisciplinary research is both advocated and antagonized. On the one hand, interdisciplinarity is argued to deliver more in terms of effectively informing policy processes and developing theoretical perspectives that can reform and regenerate knowledge. On the other hand, natural and social sciences are often presented as ontologically, epistemologically, and methodologically incompatible. Drawing on our own research experience and expertise, this paper focuses on the multiple ways in which critical geographies of water and sociohydrology are convergent, compatible, and complementary. We reflect on the existing theoretical instruments to engage in interdisciplinary research and question some of the assumptions on the methodological and epistemological incompatibility between natural and social sciences. We then propose that an interdisciplinary resource geography can further understandings of how power and the non-human co-constitute the social world and hydrological flows and advance conceptualizations of water as socionatures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Water Resource Geography)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Linking Water Scarcity to Mental Health: Hydro–Social Interruptions in the Lake Urmia Basin, Iran
Water 2019, 11(5), 1092; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11051092 - 24 May 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Alterations of water flows resulting from the manifestation of powerful hydro–social imaginaries often produce an uneven distribution of burdens and benefits for different social groups or regions, reflecting their social and political power. Marginalized regions can suffer manufactured territorialized water scarcity, which disturbs [...] Read more.
Alterations of water flows resulting from the manifestation of powerful hydro–social imaginaries often produce an uneven distribution of burdens and benefits for different social groups or regions, reflecting their social and political power. Marginalized regions can suffer manufactured territorialized water scarcity, which disturbs the natural, economic and socio-political order of water users, and as this article shows, inevitably affects their psychological wellbeing. Set in the context of the surroundings of Lake Urmia in Iran, once one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world and now a severely degraded ecosystem mainly as a result of water overuse in its watershed, this article explores how and through which pathways this manufactured water scarcity impacted the mental health of the water users in the region. The research findings reveal that alterations in this local hydro–social territory and the resulting biophysical, financial and social changes, as well as impacts on physical health of water users, relate to chronic psychological stress, social isolation, intra-community conflicts, despair, hopelessness, depression and anxiety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Water Resource Geography)
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