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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

What Is Water?

The History of a Modern Abstraction

We all know what water is, and we often take it for granted. But the spectre of a worldwide water crisis suggests that there might be something fundamentally wrong with the way we think about water. Jamie Linton dives into the history of water as an abstract concept, stripped of its environmental, social, and cultural contexts. Reduced to a scientific abstraction – to mere H20 – this concept has given modern society licence to dam, divert, and manipulate water with apparent impunity. Part of the solution to the water crisis involves reinvesting water with social content, thus altering the way we see water. An original take on a deceptively complex issue, What Is Water? offers a fresh approach to a fundamental problem.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Making Waves / Graeme Wynn


Part 1: Introduction

1 Fixing the Flow: The Things We Make of Water

2 Relational Dialectics: Putting Things in Fluid Terms

Part 2: The History of Modern Water

3 Intimations of Modern Water

4 From Premodern Waters to Modern Water

5 The Hydrologic Cycle(s): Scientific and Sacred

6 The Hortonian Hydrologic Cycle

7 Reading the Resource: Modern Water, the Hydrologic Cycle, and the Stat

8 Culmination: Global Water

Part 3: The Constitutional Crisis of Modern Water

9 The Constitution of Modern Water

10 Modern Water in Crisis

11 Sustaining Modern Water: The New “Global Water Regime”

Part 4: Conclusion: What Becomes of Water

12 Hydrolectics




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