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Mark Usher

While it may no longer be particularly controversial to highlight water as a matter of politics, to describe water’s matter as political still challenges mainstream understandings of natural resource management. Indeed, water provides a sticky medium for the formation and consolidation of broader social, economic and discursive relations, which are enabled or constrained by the production history or ‘cultural biography’ of the commodity. This has been widely demonstrated in relation to capitalist urbanization and neoliberal accumulation in the field of political ecology, with both processes shown to be dependent on the prior commodification of water. This chapter will provide an original perspective on water commodification by demonstrating how desalination technology has allowed for the commercialization and ‘worlding’ of the water sector in Singapore, elucidating the close linkage between economic clustering and resource management. Before the 2000s, when desalination and recycled water were introduced, Singapore was dependent on imported water from Malaysia, requiring ongoing and contentious diplomatic negotiations. The politicized character of the supply network prevented the restructuring and commercialization of the sector, but with the fourfold increase in privately manufactured desalinated water, the Singapore government could apply its cluster development policy to the embryonic industry. The sector, now home to 180 water companies and 26 research centres, has been designated a key growth frontier, with water acting as an agent of worlding in the global knowledge economy.

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Kees Terlouw

World-systems analysis studies the development of our world-system. Its units of analysis to explain social change are not nation-states, but world-systems. There were, until the nineteenth century, many different and dissimilar types of world-systems – world-empires and world-economies – in the world. These have over the centuries been subjugated by the capitalist world-economy which emerged at the end of the Middle Ages in Europe. Analysing these long-term historical processes is central in world-systems analysis. It focuses not on the newest features of globalization, but on the processes which over the centuries have formed our modern world-system. This started as a European world-economy and has always functioned as a capitalist world-economy. It has over the centuries gone through several distinct phases of development and has subsequently incorporated all areas on the globe. The peripheralization of these areas enabled the core to prosper. World-systems analysis focuses on the complex processes through which the inequalities in the world-system are reproduced at the systems level, but are changeable at the state level. The semi-periphery plays an important role in both stabilizing the world-system as a whole and enabling some states to improve their position in the world-system. These changes in position in the world-system are linked to its economic cycle of growth and stagnation and its political cycle of rivalry and hegemony. Besides these recurrent cycles there are also trends which change and undermine the present world-system.

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Ben Derudder

Research into ‘world cities’ has helped rooting (urban) geography in globalization debates. The world city literature focuses on a broad range of topics, and adopts very different ontologies, epistemologies, and methodologies. In spite of this multiplicity, the literature collectively deepens and extends our understanding of how (1) specific cities function as key platforms in the organization of a globalized economy/society; and (2) how this impacts socio-spatial changes within those cities. Nonetheless, because the literature lacks a central paradigm, even the most widely cited contributions are best understood as specific building blocks within an increasingly diverse literature on cities in globalization. The chapter reviews key conceptualizations of world cities and how these have become increasingly extended and contested; the main spatiotemporal and organizational dimensions of world city-formation; discusses a mapping of world cities based on the geographies of the office networks of producer services firms; and charts major future research agendas.

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David Saurí, Santiago Gorostiza and David Pavón

This chapter traces the origins of desalination in Spain in the 1960s which we relate to the parallel emergence of nuclear power. Contrary to the latter, however, desalination did not take off because of its high costs, and, more importantly, because of the preference of Spanish water planners for conventional hydraulic works such as dams, reservoirs and aqueducts. After decades of obscurity, desalination resurfaced in the 1990s, when a series of droughts hit the country, and especially after 2004, when social opposition to conventional hydraulic solutions (the Ebro water transfer) made this alternative the selected option for Eastern and Southeastern Spain through the so-called AGUA Programme. The crisis of 2007 and its devastating effects on the urbanization of the Mediterranean coast showed the limits of the ambitious AGUA Programme with many desalination plants canceled or working at very low capacities amidst accusations of overspending and corruption.

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Jamie McEvoy

In the last 40 years, environmental governance broadly, and water governance more specifically, has been influenced by a set of policy principles emphasizing decentralization, private sector involvement, and public participation. Simultaneously, growing water demands and uncertainty about climate change and the future quality and quantity of water supplies have led to an increased interest in desalination technology to augment water supplies in many regions. In coastal northwestern Mexico, desalination technology has been identified as a solution to address regional water scarcity. Using two large-scale desalination projects in the state of Baja California Sur (BCS) as case studies, this chapter examines how desalination fits within the contemporary water governance framework. The chapter concludes that the adoption of desalination technology in BCS facilitates some policy principles (e.g., semi-decentralized and semi-privatized), but also deviates in important ways (e.g., lacks genuine stakeholder participation).

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Peer Vries

This chapter presents an overview of economic globalization between the late Middle Ages and the last quarter of the twentieth century. The emphasis is on the exchange of products and people. The text shows that economic globalization has not been a uni-linear, straightforward process but one with major turning points, ups and downs and often very different timing, causes and consequences in different parts of the world. After an introduction and some comments on economic globalization before ‘Columbus’, the text discusses developments in the early modern era; the long nineteenth century; de-globalization between the First World War and the end of the Second World War, and finally the re-globalization that began after the Second World War. Without denying the fundamental importance of geographical and technological factors in constraining and enabling intercontinental exchange the author pays special attention to the importance of power and politics as factors that led to economic integration and disintegration.

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Matthew Sparke

Taking off from the non-American spelling of ‘globalisations’ (with two letters ‘s’), this chapter invites readers to consider the pedagogical need to address the plurality and heterogeneity of global integration patterns while nevertheless also attending simultaneously to the singularizing effects and integrative imperatives associated with market-led global neoliberalization. Making this distinction also makes it possible to question the necessity of neoliberal reforms which are so frequently justified in terms of Globalization. Denaturalizing this discourse in turn demands careful evidence-based critiques of the myths of new-ness, inevitability and levelling that commonly come with all the appeals to Globalization. It is argued here that critical geographies of globalisations can be usefully drawn on in efforts to teach against these myths. Such critical pedagogy can help students start to think about alternatives to Globalization too. And, even within the confines of corporatizing universities, this can in turn assist students and teachers alike in turning neoliberal governmentality’s trademark emphasis on personal responsibility into new and more enabling forms of response ability for life lived interdependently in a globalising world.

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Tapping the Oceans

Seawater Desalination and the Political Ecology of Water

Edited by Joe Williams and Erik Swyngedouw

Increasingly, water-stressed cities are looking to the oceans to fix unreliable, contested and over-burdened water supply systems. Desalination technologies are, however, also becoming the focus of intense political disagreements about the sustainable and just provision of urban water. Through a series of cutting-edge case studies and multi-subject approaches, this book explores the political and ecological debates facing water desalination on a broad geographical scale.
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Alun Jones

Macro region building has found its greatest expression in the supranational project that has occurred in Europe since the end of the Second World War. This project has evolved from one aimed at promoting economic cooperation, free trade and employment growth among Western European states in the 1950s, to a complicated form of political, economic and monetary union in the 2000s that also incorporates former communist states in Central and Eastern Europe. The European project has simultaneously been a response to, and shaper of globalization. Macro region building in Europe has had a varied and chequered history. In its formative years emphasis was on the peace potential deriving from trade and economic cooperation, with the six signatory countries dismantling a range of barriers to trade in particular sectors. Enlargement of the project from the 1970s began to expose clear differences of political emphasis and support for further integration among its members. The 1980s witnessed a response by the European Communities to global economic challenges, particularly the growth of Southeast Asian economies. This resulted in a drive by some states for closer politico-economic integration in Europe buttressed by monetary policies and strengthened European institutions. During this period the European Union sought to protect its economy from outside competition whilst attempting to exert a global role and presence. The global financial crisis of 2008 unleashed destructive pressures on macro region building in Europe, leading to growing public disenchantment with the scope and direction of integration and increased demands for either the scaling back, or disengagement from the supranational project as in the UK.

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Xue Han and Jorge Niosi

Chapter 2 extracts the key points of the solar PV sectors in terms of industrial performance, technologies and regulations. This chapter acts as the foundation for understanding further specific studies in the following chapter.