Water ethics and First Nations

A couple of recently published pieces examining issues of water, justice, policy and First Nations in Canada. In addition, here is a 2003 article from Glenn C. Reynolds that is not specific to the Canadian case, it was free to download on the web so here is the  PDF.

(1) The first is by Kenichi Matsui, who also authored Native Peoples and Water Rights in 2009 through McGill-Queens Press.  It is published by the International Indigenous Policy Journal and is available under a Creative Commons License so here is the pdf of: Water Ethics for First Nations and Biodiversity in Western Canada, and here is the abstract:

Abstract

The increasing division of academic disciplines and bureaucracy has led to the compartmentalization of knowledge on water security, biodiversity, Indigenous rights, and traditional ecological knowledge policy. The attempt to re-establish links among these issues in academic studies can shed light on integrated water governance and the establishment of water ethics. In order to facilitate this effort, this paper discusses three propositions: (1) the establishment of strong legal and ethical frameworks is needed; (2) policymakers and scientists alike need to recognize links between biodiversity and water security; and (3) they need to improve cross-cultural understanding and communication in using the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples and local people. This article examines these issues in Western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) because this region has invited cross-cultural and inter-jurisdictional conflicts since the twentieth century.

(2) The second is a book that came out this past summer by Michael Mascarenhas titled: Where the water’s divide: neoliberalism, white privilege, and environmental racism in Canada.

Here is the blurb from the publishers website:

This timely and important scholarship advances an empirical understanding of Canada’s contemporary “Indian” problem. Where the Waters Divide is one of the few book monographs that analyze how contemporary neoliberal reforms (in the manner of de-regulation, austerity measures, common sense policies, privatization, etc.) are woven through and shape contemporary racial inequality in Canadian society.Using recent controversies in drinking water contamination and solid waste and sewage pollution, Where the Waters Divide illustrates in concrete ways how cherished notions of liberalism and common sense reform — neoliberalism — also constitute a particular form of racial oppression and white privilege.
Where the Waters Divide brings together theories and concepts from four disciplines — sociology, geography, Aboriginal studies, and environmental studies — to build critical insights into the race relational aspects of neoliberal reform. In particular, the book argues that neoliberalism represents a key moment in time for the racial formation in Canada, one that functions not through overt forms of state sanctioned racism, as in the past, but via the morality of the marketplace and the primacy of individual solutions to modern environmental and social problems. Furthermore, Mascarenhas argues, because most Canadians are not aware of this pattern of laissez faire racism, and because racism continues to be associated with intentional and hostile acts, Canadians can dissociate themselves from this form of economic racism, all the while ignoring their investment in white privilege.
Where the Waters Divide stands at a provocative crossroads. Disciplinarily, it is where the social construction of water, an emerging theme within Cultural Studies and Environmental Sociology, meets the social construction of expertise — one of the most contentious areas within the social sciences. It is also where the political economy of natural resources, an emerging theme in Development and Globalization Studies, meets the Politics of Race Relations — an often-understudied area within Environmental Studies. Conceptually, the book stands where the racial formation associated with natural resources reform is made and re-made, and where the dominant form of white privilege is contrasted with anti-neoliberal social movements in Canada and across the globe.
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