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Edited by John R. Bryson, Lauren Andres and Rachel Mulhall

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Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

This chapter introduces the problem that this book addresses: how do societies come to be constructed in such a way that residents cannot drink the water that is supplied to them? The example of the supply of water to Shanghai is taken as a case through which to examine this question. Shanghai, it is argued, is an assemblage of interacting actors. This book examines the properties and characteristics of four principal actors: the hydro-geological conditions and rivers that provide water; the people, corporations and institutions within Shanghai who use and pollute the water; the institutions of central and other governments that regulate the use of the rivers and the discharges into them; and the infrastructures that governments and corporations have built to manage the river. The chapter concludes by outlining the organisation of the chapters through which the book addresses the question.

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Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

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Robert C. Kloosterman, Virginie Mamadouh and Pieter Terhorst

This chapter starts with a brief history of the concept ‘globalization’. It highlights the rather surprising rapid emergence of the concept in the 1990s when it acquired a very prominent status in both academic and public debates. After that, some of the many meanings of globalization are explored. More in particular, the focus is on the plurality of geographical expressions as well as of current geographical approaches to the manifold processes of globalization. The chapter argues that the spatial dimension – in marked contrast to the temporal dimension – has long been neglected in social sciences in general. Current processes of globalization require an a priori acknowledgment of the fundamental role of space as these processes may be articulated in very different ways in different places. Geographical approaches, characterized by a sensitivity to space, place and spatial scales, are highly relevant to understand processes of globalization.

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Joe Williams and Erik Swyngedouw

The opening chapter of this book makes the intellectual and political argument for a more critical understanding of seawater desalination as an emerging phenomenon of water governance. Its purpose, in this sense, is to politicise seawater. The chapter provides an overview of the historic and contemporary development of desalting technologies and the global desalination industry. We argue that, rather than seeing desalination as a water management ‘solution’, it should instead be understood as a socio-technical and political ecological ‘fix’, which allows cities, regions and countries to overcome some of the hydrological barriers to growth and accumulation, while creating or intensifying other social and ecological contradictions. These contradictions, we demonstrate, revolve around the governance of water, privatisation and commercialisation, the water-energy nexus, and marine ecology. Finally, we summarise the substantive chapters included in the book.

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Andreas Faludi

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Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

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Edited by Ross Dowling and David Newsome

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Edited by Ross Dowling and David Newsome

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Edited by Ross Dowling and David Newsome