What Is Water?: The History of a Modern Abstraction (Nature/History/Society)

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9780774817011: What Is Water?: The History of a Modern Abstraction (Nature/History/Society)

We all know what water is and many of us take it for granted. But because it seems so natural, the way we see water is seldom given critical attention. This book provides a much-needed analysis of how we view water, showing that modern understandings have given rise to a global crisis. Jamie Linton argues that modern Western society tends to understand water as a scientific abstraction - as merely H20 or the substance occurring in the hydrologic cycle. We have lost sight of its essential fecundity and stripped it of its wider environmental, social, and cultural contexts. This removal, or abstraction, has given modern society license to treat water as something that may dammed, diverted, and manipulated with impunity. The water crisis can be averted, Linton concludes, by deliberately reinvesting water with social content.

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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 H 20 – 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.

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The history of the modern idea of water – an idea whose consequences have helped produce a global crisis.

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Linton, Jamie
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