Waterpower: Politics and the Geography of Water Provision

John Agnew

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    49 Citations (Scopus)


    Access to potable water is frequently said to be the defining world crisis of the twenty-first century. The argument is usually framed in terms of either direct environmental constraints or various totalistic views of how the political determines outcomes. There is little or no scope for the agency of practical politics. Both physical and human geographers tend to be dismissive of the possibilities of democratic politics ever resolving crises such as those of the geography of water provision, in part because of views of scientific expertise that devalue popular participation in decisions about technical matters such as water quality and distribution. Such dismissal also has much to do with a more generalized denigration of politics. Politics (the art of political deliberation, negotiation, and compromise) needs defending against its critics and many of its practitioners. Showing how politics is at work around the world in managing water problems and identifying the challenges that water problems pose for politics provides a retort to those who can only envisage inevitable destruction or a totalistic political panacea as the outcomes of the crisis of the century.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)463-476
    Number of pages14
    JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Earth-Surface Processes


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