Water, Technology and the Nation-State

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Poydras, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Organizers: Filippo Menga
Chairs: Filippo Menga


Besides being essential to life, water is also politically and economically valuable (Mollinga, 2008; Swyngedouw, 2006). This has not only resulted in technocratic approaches to water management based on narratives that are primarily informed by the natural sciences (Sharp, 2017), but also on the appropriation of water resources from poor and marginalised to powerful actors (Mehta et al., 2012). Water gives power to those who control it (Norman et al., 2015), and hydraulic infrastructures can consequently be used to wield power and to enact hegemonic and counter-hegemonic strategies. Due to its unique nature, high-level bureaucrats and technocrats tend to perceive and portray water as a national asset constituting an integral part of ‘the homeland’. This panel will delve into the complex and often hidden connection between water, technological advancement and the nation-state, addressing two major questions: in what ways water as a resource can be ideologically constructed, imagined and framed to create and reinforce a national identity; and how the nation-state can be physically constructed out of a material water infrastructure in the contemporary world. These questions will be addressed by some of the contributors to the volume “Water, Technology and the Nation-State” edited by Filippo Menga and Erik Swyngedouw (Earthscan, 2018).

Mehta, L., Gert, J.V., and Franco, J., 2012. "Introduction to the Special Issue: Water Grabbing? Focus on the (Re) appropriation of Finite Water Resources." Water Alternatives 5(2).
Mollinga, P.P., 2008. “Water, politics and development: Framing a political sociology of water resources management.” Water Alternatives 1(1).
Norman, E.S., Cook, C. and Cohen, A. (eds.), 2015. Negotiating water governance: Why the politics of scale matter. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..
Sharp, L., 2017. Reconnecting People and Water: Public Engagement and Sustainable Urban Water Management. Taylor & Francis.
Swyngedouw, E., 2006. Power, water and money: Exploring the nexus. United Nations Human Development Report. Occasional Paper 2006/14.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Filippo Menga*, University of Reading, States of water 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Joe Williams*, Durham University, The Ocean Bountiful? De-salination, de-politicisation, and binational water governance on the Colorado River 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Michael Mason*, London School of Economics and Political Science, Muna Dajani*, London School of Economics, Counter-infrastructure as resistance in the hydrosocial territory of the occupied Golan Heights 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Bengi Akbulut*, Concordia University, Fikret Adaman, Bogazici University, Murat Arsel, Erasmus University International Institute of Social Studies, the Hague, Troubled Waters of Hegemony: Consent and Contestation in Turkey’s Hydropower Landscapes 20 9:00 AM
Discussant Chris Sneddon Dartmouth College 20 9:20 AM

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