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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Joe Williams and Erik Swyngedouw
Anssi Paasi, John Harrison and Martin Jones
Region and territory have been major keywords of geographical thinking, methodology and research practice since the institutionalization of geography as an academic discipline at the end of the nineteenth century. But what is a region? How are they constructed? How do regions relate to territory? Are regions and territories still relevant in today’s modern world characterized by all kinds of flows and networks? How are regions and territories affected and shaped by social forces? What does it mean to study the geographies of regions and territories? What does the future hold for these spatial categories? These are just some of the key questions, which have not only shaped the long intellectual history of studying regions and territories, they are as relevant today as they have ever been. In this chapter we chart the increased utility of the region and territory in different social, political and cultural realms. We trace the evolving geographies of regions and territories through five distinct chronological phases – traditional regional geographies, regional science, new regional geography, new regionalism and new regional worlds – before revealing the dynamics underpinning a regional resurgence in globalization. In the final part, we contend that contemporary geographies of regions and territories are marked by distinct regional worlds, diverse regional worlds, and decentred regional futures. Finally, by taking stock of the current state of debates on the theory and empirical dimensions of regions and territories, we make the case for a new phase of consolidated regional geographies.