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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 Raspotnik

In recent years, the Arctic region has reappeared as a centre of world politics and attracted the interest of stakeholders from within and outside the circumpolar North. The region is literally melting and the term ‘Arctic geopolitics’ has become a popular catchphrase to illustrate the Arctic’s status quo and its allegedly fluid future. During that time the European Union also discovered its Northern neighbourhood. Concerned about an unstable Arctic region and related spill-over effects reaching Europe, the EU has shown considerable interest in having a determining influence on future regional developments. It envisioned an Arctic future alongside its own conceptualisation of world order, rule of law and good governance.

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Aled Williams and Philippe Le Billon

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Inge Amundsen

Experiencing high levels of poverty and corruption, Nigeria is widely perceived as the quintessential resource cursed country. Yet, the oil exporter nonetheless underwent a democratic transition with its March 2015 elections. The explanation for this puzzle partly lies in the recent fall in oil prices and related government revenues, which limited patronage spending before the elections. Applying a political ecology lens to the case, however, also points towards deeper explanations: the costs and benefits of Nigerian oil extraction have been very unevenly distributed allowing the formation of new, and the destruction of old, political alliances. Keywords: Nigeria, elections, democracy, oil revenues, patronage, capital flight