From manufacturing rivers to desalting the seas: contested hydro-modernities in Spain
The lecture explores the relationship between modernization, socio-environmental change and the choreographies of social and political power. The contested political-ecological process that marked the transformation of Spain’s hydro-social landscapes during the 20th century and into the new century will be the entry through which a wider set of issues will be explored. Modernization was and is a decidedly geographical project and is expressed in and through the intense socio-environmental transformation of Spain, both internally and in terms of its wider geo-political relations. This transformation is one in which water and the waterscape play a pivotal role. The broader intellectual objectives behind the articulation of the transformation of Spain’s hydro-social landscape between 1898 and 2008 are: 1) to explore how diverse political projects, social visions, ecological sensitivities, socio-cultural imaginaries, discursive formations, institutional arrangements, economic interests and strategies, and engineering technologies fuse together in particular environmental practices and hydro-technical infrastructures; 2) to document how human and non-human ‘actants’ become enrolled in this historical-geographical process of multi-scalar assembling; 3) to analyze the political ecological processes through which particular socio-technical configurations come into being, are stabilized, transformed, and ultimately replaced by other socio-technical assemblages; and 4) to tease out the implications of this reading for contemporary environmental politics.
Erik Swyngedouw is Professor of Human Geography in the School of Environment and Development at the University of Manchester. His research interests include political-ecology, urban governance, democracy and political power, water and water resources, the political-economy of capitalist societies, and the politics of globalisation. Recent books include Urbanising Globalisation (co-edited, OUP 2003), Social Power and the Urbanisation of Water – Flows of Power (OUP 2004), and From Manufacturing Rivers to Desalting the Seas (MIT Press, forthcoming).