Symposium 2012 Suggested Readings

Maude Barlow, Blue Covenant (The New Press, 2007) (Available at the PLU Bookstore for purchase)

“Maude Barlow has for decades been a leading voice arguing that access to safe drinking water should be a basic human right. Called the ‘Al Gore of water,’ Barlow is the very best kind of advocate–deeply informed, articulate, and persuasive. Essential reading for anyone interested in the emerging international movement for water justice, Blue Covenant is one of the most important books of our time.”

Ted Danson and Michael D’Orso, Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them (Rodale Books, 2011)

“Most people know Ted Danson as the affable bartender Sam Malone in the long-running television series Cheers. But fewer realize that over the course of the past two and a half decades, Danson has tirelessly devoted himself to the cause of heading off a looming global catastrophe—the massive destruction of our planet’s oceanic biosystems and the complete collapse of the world’s major commercial fisheries.”

K.P. Wayne, Let Them Eat Shrimp: The Tragic Disappearance of the Rainforest of the Sea (Island Press, 2011)

“In Let Them Eat Shrimp, Kennedy Warne takes readers into the muddy battle zone that is the mangrove forest. A tangle of snaking roots and twisted trunks, mangroves are often dismissed as foul wastelands. In fact, they are supermarkets of the sea, providing shellfish, crabs, honey, timber, and charcoal to coastal communities from Florida to South America to New Zealand. Generations have built their lives around mangroves and consider these swamps sacred. ”

Edward J. Larson, An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shakleton and the Heroic Age of Antarctica Science (Yale, 2011)

“Published to coincide with the centenary of the first expeditions to reach the South Pole, An Empire of Ice presents a fascinating new take on Antarctic exploration. Retold with added information, it’s the first book to place the famed voyages of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, his British rivals Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton, and others in a larger scientific, social, and geopolitical context.”

Shelagh D. Grant, Polar Imperative: A History of Artic Sovereignty in North America (Douglas and McIntyre, 2010)

“Based on Shelagh Grant’s groundbreaking archival research and drawing on her reputation as a leading historian in the field, Polar Imperative is a compelling overview of the historical claims of sovereignty over this continent’s polar regions. This engaging, timely history examines the unfolding implications of major climate changes; the impact of resource exploitation on the indigenous peoples; the current high-stakes game for control over the adjacent waters of Alaska, Arctic Canada and Greenland; the events, issues and strategies that have influenced claims to authority over the lands and waters of the North American Arctic, from the arrival of the first inhabitants around 3,000 BCE to the present; and sovereignty from a comparative point of view within North America and parallel situations in the European and Asian Arctic.”

Steven Solomon, The Epic Struggle for Water, Power and Civilization (Harper, 2010)

Far more than oil, the control of water wealth throughout history has been pivotal to the rise and fall of great powers, the achievements of civilization, the transformations of society’s vital habitats, and the quality of ordinary daily lives. Today, freshwater scarcity is one of the twenty-first century’s decisive, looming challenges, driving new political, economic, and environmental realities across the globe. In Water, Steven Solomon offers the first-ever narrative portrait of the power struggles, personalities, and breakthroughs that have shaped humanity from antiquity’s earliest civilizations through the steam-powered Industrial Revolution and America’s century.

Charles Fishman, The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water (Free Press, 2011)

“As Charles Fishman writes, ‘Many civilizations have been crippled or destroyed by an inability to understand water or manage it. We have a huge advantage over the generations of people who have come before us, because we can understand water and we can use it smartly.’ The Big Thirst will forever change the way we think about water, about our essential relationship to it, and about the creativity we can bring to ensuring that we’ll always have plenty of it.”

Terje Tvedt, ed. A History of Water: Ideas of Water from Ancient Societies to the Modern World: v. 1: Series 2 (I.B. Tauris, 2009)

Terje Tvedt is a professor of geography at the University of Bergen and a professor of political science at the University of Oslo. He is the author of a number of successful books and films on water issues. Theses volumes present all aspects of water – social, cultural, religious, historical, economic and technological – from ancient times to present day.

Terje Tvedt, A History of Water: Ideas of Water from Ancient Societies to the Modern World: v. 2: Series 2 (I.B. Tauris, 2009)

Terje Tvedt, A History of Water: The Political Economy of Water (2006)

Terje Tvedt, A History of Water: The World of Water (2005)

Terje Tvedt, A History of Water: Water Control and River Biographies (2005)

Terje Tvedt, The River Nile in the Age of the British (London: I.B. Tauris, 2004)

The importance of the Nile is greater than ever. It plays a crucial role in the economics, politics and cultural life of the ten countries through which it runs and is the subject of heated debate for their 300 million inhabitants. The River Nile in the Age of the British provides a detailed account of what happened in the most revolutionary period of the river’s history. It provides new interpretations and explanations of many of the political events of the period and sheds new light on important regional and national questions.

Terje Tvedt, Angels of Mercy or Development Diplomats? NGOs & Foreign Aid (London: James Curry, 1998)

Is the world witnessing a global associational revolution spearheaded by development non-governmental organizations (NGOs)? Is the relationship between states and societies being more fundamentally redefined, even in remote, rural corners of the world? What role does the mushrooming of development NGOs play in this political-ideological process? What about NGO staff? Are they angels of mercy, government-paid development diplomats, propagandists for a triumphant West, or instruments in a coming clash between civilizations? Presented here are cases from Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Bangladesh and Nicaragua that shed light on these complex questions. The text puts forward a critique of central theories and concepts which have dominated research and discourse on development NGOs. It also proposes and demonstrates some different analytical approaches.

Symposium 2012 film, YouTube videos


Terje Tvedt, A Journey in the History of Water (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and University of Bergen)


Maude Barlow

Terje Tdvet

Water on the Web

Find out more about water issues through these websites and organizations