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Academic & Professional Books  History & Other Humanities  Environmental History

Enclosing Water Nature and Political Economy in a Mediterranean Valley, 1796-1916

By: Stefania Barca(Author)
196 pages, b/w illustrations
Enclosing Water
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  • Enclosing Water ISBN: 9781874267577 Paperback Jun 2010 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks
  • Enclosing Water ISBN: 9781874267560 Hardback Jun 2010 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks
Selected version: £27.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Enclosing Water is an environmental history of the Industrial Revolution, as inscribed on the Liri valley in Italy's Central Apennines. Amid forces of revolution and empire, and Enlightenment discourses of 'improvement' and political economy, the Liri's natural wealth – water-power – generated sweeping changes in its landscape and working and living environments. Enclosing Water tells the story of how defining water as property – both materially and discursively – led to the emergence of an industrial riverscape, and of a concomitant new ecological consciousness; to heightened environmental risks and awareness of those risks.

A dramatic century in the Liri's socio-environmental history, with its cast of new industrial bourgeoisie, engineers and civil servants, illuminates how material developments and ideological currents completely reshaped the relationship between society and nature at the periphery of 19th century Europe. By integrating Political Economy into the narrative of European environmental history, this pioneering book offers a critical new view of discourses of water disorder and environmental politics in the Mediterranean region.


Italian landscape with waterfall
A road to waterpower

1. The landscape of Political Economy
Nature and nation in the Kingdom of Naples
Improving the Valley
Landscape and violence

2. Empire and the ‘disorder of water’
Liberating nature
Rivers and revolution
Seeing like a statistician

3. The ecology of waterpower
The making of an industrial riverscape
‘I’ll have your flesh for three cents per pound’: Gender and mechanisation
Improvement vs. habitation
The machine in the river: a pastoral narrative

One hundred years of enclosures
Rivers and property in the Italian South

4. Enclosing the river
Picture a river open to all...
The appropriators
Water wars, water discipline
The tragedy of enclosure

5. Floods and politics in the Apennines
Seeing like an engineer
The un-improving State
Industry and disaster

Common Water


Customer Reviews


Stefania Barca (born in Naples in 1968) is a researcher at the Centre for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. After obtaining her PhD in Economic History from the University of Bari (1997) she was a research associate with the Institute of Studies on Mediterranean Societies in Naples (part of the Italian National Research Council) and taught courses in economic, social and environmental history. She has published numerous articles in Italian and English and co-authored the book Storia dell'ambiente. Una introduzione ('An Introduction to Environmental History', 2004, with M. Armiero). In 2003 she was involved in founding the first Italian environmental history journal, I Frutti di Demetra: Bollettino di Storia e Ambiente, on whose editorial board she still serves. From 2005 to 2008 she was in the US, first as visiting scholar to the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University and then as Ciriacy Wantrup postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. She returned to Europe in 2009. Her current research projects include a comparative environmental history of petrochemicals, and a biography of Italian leading ecologist Laura Conti.

By: Stefania Barca(Author)
196 pages, b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"The close and dense connections pinpointed between culture, environment, and economy make this work an enriching, even indispensable read [...] Essential."
- R. Spickermann, University of Texas – CHOICE Academic Reviews

"The Industrial Revolution is one of the great themes for environmental history. Here Barca rises to the challenge, providing a clear case study of an industrial transformation of a riverine environment in its political, intellectual, social, and economic context."
- J.R. McNeill, Georgetown University – Environmental History

"[Barca's] penetrating, multi-layered unpacking of this tragic story makes significant contributions to environmental, social and intellectual history. Enclosing Water is essential reading for understanding the dialectical consequences of changing socio-ecological relationships. It offers an original, thought-provoking way of seeing how society creates landscapes out of visionary ideal of itself."
- Harold Platt, Loyola University, Chicago – Environment and History

"Barca has a very rich and exciting set of concepts that she has developed to interpret the unfolding of the events in the Liri Valley: Enclosing Water; disorder of water; ecology of waterpower; liberating nature; industrial riverscape; the machine in the river; the tragedy of enclosure; seeing like an engineer; the unimproving state; industry and disaster. These concepts are unique to Barca's highly creative interpretation of environmental history and are what are going to put her stamp on the field"
- Carolyn Merchant, University of California at Berkeley

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