Water is the most valuable resource and the most passionately contested. Drought has become an increasingly extreme problem in many parts of the world, and it is predicted that 60% of the major cities in Europe will run short of water in the next decade. In industrialized countries per capita water usage continues to rise intractably, despite strenuous efforts by environmentalists and resource managers to encourage conservation. Conflicts over water and environmental degradation from the overuse of resources are intensifying. Water is not merely a physical resource: in every cultural context it is densely encoded with social, spiritual, political and environmental meanings, and these have a powerful effect upon patterns of water use and upon the relationships between water users and suppliers. This book makes an in-depth analysis of the meanings of water and considers how they are experienced and formed at an individual and societal level. Focusing on the River Stour in Dorset, Strang draws upon a wide range of data: ethnographic research, cultural mapping, local archives and folklore. She explores the controversies surrounding water ownership and management, and the social and political questions raised by water privatization in the UK. The topical nature of these issues and their global relevance make this book a vital contribution to contemporary research on water and an essential read for anyone with an interest in getting under the surface of one of the worlds most important social and environmental issues.
Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION1 Only Connect1 An Analytic Framework3 PART 1. CULTURAL LANDSCAPES8 CHAPTER 1. THE STOUR VALLEY 8 Times and Tides9 Dorset Shires11 20th Century Dorset13 Social Pressure17 CHAPTER 2. LOSING WATER21 Changing Channels21 En-Gendering Water23 Enclosing Water25 Reigning Over Water28 The State of the Industry34 Material Meanings41 The Environmental Consequences45 PART 2. UNDER WATER50 CHAPTER 3. SENSES AND SENSIBILITIES50 Experiencing Water51 Hydrology and Homology62 A Matter of Life and Death64 Order and Disorder67 CHAPTER 4. THINKING WATER 70 Water on the Mind70 Bodies of Water 76 A Matter of Substance79 PART 3. HYDROLATRY AND HYDROLOGY85 CHAPTER 5. HOLY WATER85 Well Beings85 Water in the Church92 Mixed Blessings97 Healing Water102 The Fountain of Knowledge103 Hydrolatry Springs Eternal106 CHAPTER 6. SECULAR HYDROLATRY 108 The Aesthetics of Water108 Walking Along Water110 Gone Fishing114 Messing About in Boats116 CHAPTER 7. THE HYDRODYNAMICS OF ORDER119 H2O119 Only Natural 121 Hydrology and Ecology125 In the Swim129 Common Currency132 PART 4. OWNING WATER135 CHAPTER 8. PRIVATE LIFE135 Against Nature135 Ecology Rules136 Substantial Loss137 Dammed Economics140 Company Culture143 Industry Issues149 CHAPTER 9. GOVERNING WATER159 Regulating Water159 Minding the Quality161 Feeling the Width164 Local Governance171 PART 5. MANAGING WATER175 CHAPTER 10. CULTIVATING WATER175 Industrial Water175 Industrial Relations178 Farming the Valley180 Down on the Farm186 CHAPTER 11. BACK TO NATURE190 Green Water190 English in Nature192 Local Agenda197 Recreating Knowledge199 PART 6. CONTRA FLOWS204 CHAPTER 12. WATERING THE HOUSE AND GARDEN 204 Domestic Space204 Material Disconnection206 Wasting Away208 Watering Cans and Cants215 Quality and Control219 A Certain Quality of Life225 Bottling Out229 CHAPTER 13. WATER PRESSURE233 Over the River233 Cash Flow233 Measured Responses236 Technological Fixes244 Educating Water251 On Message255 CONCLUSION260 An Uncommon Tragedy260 In Solution265 BIBLIOGRAPHY269
Veronica Strang is Professor of Social Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland.