Review of Mascarenhas’ “Where the waters divide”

Last December, I mentioned the new book out by Michael Mascarenhas titled,

Where the waters divide: neoliberalism, white41DTGUpKqIL._SL500_AA300_privilege and environmental racism in Canada.

My review of the book is out in the journal Canadian Public Policy and is available here. I am not as enthusiastic as other reviewers (see here or here) although I agree fully that this is an exceedingly important topic on which we need further scholarship and policy.

My main criticism is that the book isn’t rigorous enough. It was perplexing to not find a more carefully constructed argument that situates Mascarenhas’ account in the broader Canadian context. The examples draw predominantly from Ontario and make claims about Canada in general. There is certainly a lot of structural injustice regarding First Nations water rights, and it would have been good to provide the reader with some of the specifics on that front. For instance, the ways that irrigation development in the west was timed to interfere as much as possible with First Nations cultural celebrations. The ways that battles over hydropower in Quebec led to new “modern treaties” or what are sometimes called comprehensive land claims agreements. And so on…

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