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The Meaning of Water

By: Veronica Strang

274 pages, no illustrations

Berg Publishers

Paperback | Feb 2004 | #149543 | ISBN: 1859737536
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-3 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £18.99 $24 / €22 approx

About this book

Water is the most valuable of our natural resources. It is, however, predicted that an alarming percentage of major cities are going to be running short of it in the next decade. How will this rising demand for water be met? What are the implications of climate change? And what drives a quarter of the population to drink bottled water rather than tap water? This book takes an in-depth look at the myriad meanings of water, from the political and environmental to the societal and spiritual. It explores the controversies surrounding water policy and management, such as the effects of water company privatization.

'This is a significant book and should be required reading for scientists and engineers entering the wonderful world of water . It provides an important contribution to our understanding of the significance of water resources to human welfare.' Anthropolgical Forum 'Veronica Strang's book, The Meaning of Water, carries a message thatneeds to be heard by politicians and policy makers throughout the capitalist world. As the essence of all life, water is sacred, and its control by external profit-making agencies is a violation. By locating her analysis in an enthnography of water, Strang goes on to show how the inexorable drive to commodify everything that people need and useis fundamentally at odds with some of our most deeply held cultural values. Like all the best social scientific research, Strangs work points to what is most wrong, and what is most in need of change'. Kay Milton, Queen's University Belfast 'The author's plea that conflicts over water resources might be reduced by a more local and integrated apporach to their management is laudable, and the book deserves to be read by many people who would not normally read anthropology, including the employees of the major water utilities who sponsored the research' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


INTRODUCTION1Only Connect1An Analytic Framework3PART 1. CULTURAL LANDSCAPES8CHAPTER 1. THE STOUR VALLEY 8Times and Tides9Dorset Shires1120th Century Dorset13Social Pressure17CHAPTER 2. LOSING WATER21Changing Channels21En-Gendering Water23Enclosing Water25Reigning Over Water28The State of the Industry34Material Meanings41The Environmental Consequences45PART 2. UNDER WATER50CHAPTER 3. SENSES AND SENSIBILITIES50Experiencing Water51Hydrology and Homology62A Matter of Life and Death64Order and Disorder67CHAPTER 4. THINKING WATER 70Water on the Mind70Bodies of Water 76A Matter of Substance79PART 3. HYDROLATRY AND HYDROLOGY85CHAPTER 5. HOLY WATER85Well Beings85Water in the Church92Mixed Blessings97Healing Water102The Fountain of Knowledge103Hydrolatry Springs Eternal106CHAPTER 6. SECULAR HYDROLATRY 108The Aesthetics of Water108Walking Along Water110Gone Fishing114Messing About in Boats116CHAPTER 7. THE HYDRODYNAMICS OF ORDER119H2O119Only Natural 121Hydrology and Ecology125In the Swim129Common Currency132PART 4. OWNING WATER135CHAPTER 8. PRIVATE LIFE135Against Nature135Ecology Rules136Substantial Loss137Dammed Economics140Company Culture143Industry Issues149CHAPTER 9. GOVERNING WATER159Regulating Water159Minding the Quality161Feeling the Width164Local Governance171PART 5. MANAGING WATER175CHAPTER 10. CULTIVATING WATER175Industrial Water175Industrial Relations178Farming the Valley180Down on the Farm186CHAPTER 11. BACK TO NATURE190Green Water190English in Nature192Local Agenda197Recreating Knowledge199PART 6. CONTRA FLOWS204CHAPTER 12. WATERING THE HOUSE AND GARDEN 204Domestic Space204Material Disconnection206Wasting Away208Watering Cans and Cants215Quality and Control219A Certain Quality of Life225Bottling Out229CHAPTER 13. WATER PRESSURE233Over the River233Cash Flow233Measured Responses236Technological Fixes244Educating Water251On Message255CONCLUSION260An Uncommon Tragedy260In Solution265BIBLIOGRAPHY269

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Veronica Strang is Professor of Social Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland. She is the author of Water: Nature and Culture and Gardening the World: Agency, Identity and the Ownership of Water.

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