Entanglements of Water Management


This review essay investigates Andrea Ballestero’s A Future History of Water (Duke University Press, Durham, 2019), Jeremy Schmidt’s Water: Abundance, Scarcity, and Security in the Age of Humanity (New York University Press, New York, 2017), and Wade Graham’s Braided Waters: Environment and Society in Molokai, Hawai’i (University of California, Oakland, 2018) within the wider theme of water-human relationships. More specifically, these books provide insight into the human dimensions of water management as they explore the process of how water impacts and drives economic, social, and political change. By doing this, Ballestero, Schmidt, and Graham highlight water’s agency and the vital role it plays in a variety of locations and situations. Broadly speaking, works like these help move water beyond discussions limited to ecological science, giving this resource a starring role in crucial discussions ranging from policy and economics to community development and social equity. In this regard, environmental issues are holistic matters that must engage cultural, economic, political, and religious dimensions as well as ecological issues. Collectively these books show that water’s fluctuating nature dictates the structure of our world, permeating every issue from the daily to the global while reinforcing the need to look critically at this life-giving resource.

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  1. Ballestero, A. (2019). A future history of water. Durham: Duke University Press.

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  2. Graham, W. (2018). Braided waters environment and society in Molokai, Hawai’i. Oakland: University of California Press.

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  3. Schmidt, J. J. (2017). Water: Abundance, scarcity, and security in the age of humanity. New York: NYU Press.

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Correspondence to Victoria Machado.

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Machado, V. Entanglements of Water Management. J Agric Environ Ethics 32, 805–812 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10806-019-09804-0

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  • Water management
  • Water rights
  • Abundance
  • Scarcity
  • Social equity