David Schlosberg: Environmental management in the Anthropocene

The book David starts out referencing is here.

Green Mirage: Documentary on communal water management in Tunisia


A description I was sent:

A documentary about the Demmer village in the southern Tunisia and its traditional water management.

The local population of the village of Demmer has been organized in a ‘communal’ system that guaranteed it a certain coherence and a ‘know-how’ of living together, that covered almost all aspects of life, from the rules of grazing and the conservation of resources, including management of alliances, marriage, heritage and conflict resolution. Without being ideal or devoid of inequality and injustice, this communal coherence managed to insure a permanence of life, and an evident durability and has prevented any dramatic socio-spatial breakdown or a premature desertification.

The set of traditional and artisanal rules, know-hows, techniques, technologies and practices that respect the environment and protect the biodiversity proved and guaranteed an indisputable durability. It lasted till the mid-fifties of the last century, when the external factors came to undermine the most solid foundations and launch a dangerous process of physical and human desertification.

Demmer is an isolated place. However this isolation is not an absolute rupture with the rest of the world, and Demmer suffers, like the rest of the planet from the global phenomena and processes, sometimes even in a more ‘violent’ way than in big cities. The phenomena linked to modernity, whether technical, technological, social, ‘cultural’ and even religious, is usually lived in these isolated spaces in a collectively dramatic way, even if in some instances, this modernity could be of collateral benefit those whose way of life is destroyed in the process.

This opening on the ‘modern’ world is unquestionably accompanied by the disruption and disappearance of the technical, technological, social and cultural local heritage. The film wants to preserve this heritage by raising awareness of its deep wisdom and capture it on film with the prospect of using the document in the future as reference in the probable case of total erosion of the socio-ecological system.

By stressing, highlighting and documenting the genius of management of resources in the village of Demmer, the film is a contribution to the many debates around the consequences – direct and/or indirect – of development policies, whether successful or failing, on the local populations and the isolated and/or forgotten regions. But beyond the specific questions to Demmer and its population, this film is about the reflection on the sense, advantages and consequences, sometimes dramatic, of modernity and particularly the consequences of the dominant discourses and models of development.

What water is worth: new book from Palgrave

Interesting new title from Palgrave:

What Water Is Worth
Overlooked Non-Economic Value in Water Resources

By Kira Artemis Russo and Zachary A. Smith41N23kPXnWL

Water managers tend to have narrow views on what they consider to be the value of water. However, not all water use is market driven; therefore, a comprehensive understanding of local community values associated with water can inform decision making by water managers. We use the term ‘water manager’ to encompass not only the singular person assigned this community duty but also the many councils and institutions who make decisions regarding local water resources. Regarding conventional values of water, an abundance of research exists; yet, for intangible aspects such as conservation for its own sake and spiritual connections, research involving value is limited. There are volumes of works that estimate the monetary values of water; however, intangible values are often overlooked. In general, few studies endeavor to estimate worth for water that encompasses more than a monetary value. We argue that it is the inclusion of both monetary and non-monetary values that justifies trust in the position of water manager.

(H/T to CH)

Archives – more fun than you’d think

Sometimes I wonder if I should’ve become a historian. My earliest obsession (that I recall) was with being an archaeologist, so perhaps there is just something of a disposition to wanting to know where things came from and how they sit amongst everything else. Or at least as much of everything else as you can reasonably task yourself with knowing.

These days I’ve been back in the archives; though I’m looking at fairly recent stuff focused on what went on in the 1970s, 80s and 90s that brought water to the global stage. So far, its been pretty fascinating. I spied what I believe to be an originating, if not the original source for the hotly contested notion in the 1992 Dublin Principles that water has an economic value in all of its competing uses.

I’ve also managed to detect how, if I’m not mistaken, the “mega-conferences” on water (for background see here [PDF] or here) come into line with several broader trends in global water governance. All of this terrain has been covered by others in various ways. But what I think is unique is that I’ve now forged an intellectual lineage that goes back to the 19th century. That is, I think I’ve now connected the dots that explain why a certain form of water management is conducive to these larger projects, and why others are not. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see if this is correct through the process of peer review and so forth, but I think I’ve got a pretty strong case coming together.

Back to the archives today.