Where the Waters Divide

Where the Waters Divide : Neoliberalism, White Privilege, and Environmental Racism in Canada

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Where the Waters Divide is one of the few book length studies that analyze contemporary forms of racism and white privilege in Canadian society. The book argues that neoliberalism represents a key moment in time for the racial formation in Canada, one that functions not through overt forms of state sanctioned racism, as in the past, but via the morality of the marketplace and the primacy of individual solutions to modern environmental and social problems.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 180 pages
  • 154 x 232 x 18mm | 544.31g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 3 Tables, unspecified; 3 Halftones, black and white; 6 Illustrations, black and white
  • 0739168274
  • 9780739168271

Table of contents

Introduction: the Fluid Crisis Chapter 1: Cultures of Water Governance Chapter 2: White Privilege and the Canadian State Chapter 3: Common Sense Water Reform Chapter 4: The Neoliberalism of Nature Chapter 5: Reproducing the Racial Formation Chapter 6: Re-investing in Whiteness Chapter 7: The Science of Neoliberal Racism Conclusion: Racism without Responsibility
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Review quote

[This book] provide[s] valuable grist for the mill of critical scholarship that is attempting to meaningfully theorize the complex nexus of water, space, nature, and capitalist dynamism. The fact that geographers, environmental historians, anthropologists, technology theorists, and others are increasingly engaged in this task means that ... [this book] will be sure to spark the interest, and merit the attention, of a growing interdisciplinary scholarly community. Dialectical Anthropology The great strength of this book is that it systematically names and explores how neoliberalism is a racial formation highlighting not simply how water policy disadvantages First Nations communities but also how concomitant water practices privilege the environmental and social conditions that most white Canadians take for granted. Overall, Mascarenhas illuminates how environmental racism is produced in a contemporary Canadian context through neoliberal water governance operating under racial logics that continue to privilege mostly white communities. The author challenges the common stereotype that poor water services on First Nations reserves are simply "their own fault." In contrast he unpacks how neoliberal discourses shape access to clean water in ways that ensure Indigenous communities have limited control, and that normalize sustained underinvestment by the federal government. While some technical aspects of the book (a thin index and typographical errors) are a minor concern, Where the Waters Divide makes a significant contribution to theorizing the relationship between Indigenous exclusion and white privilege, and should be considered an important achievement. This book would be appropriate for courses in globalization and economic life, Canadian studies, environmental issues, critical race theory and Indigenous issues. Canadian Journal of Sociology A general awareness exists about the extent to which neoliberalism over the last thirty years has systematically undermined an array of public services from education to health care in North America and elsewhere. Where the Waters Divide reminds us that privatization and deregulation are similarly enfeebling our ability to protect natural resources. The case of fresh water in Canada exposes the social dimensions of emergent scarcity crises and presages the difficult struggles that will be at the heart of sustainability governance in coming decades. -- Maurie J. Cohen, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Editor of Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy Michael Mascarenhas looks under the hood of neoliberal water regulation in Canada to reveal the connections between this ideology's supposedly colour-blind prescriptions for economic growth and efficiency and the deepening racial inequalities they produce-above all, for aboriginal communities. This book is an urgent plea to non-native Canadians to "see" the environmental racism that is rooted in the colonial origins of this country and that the last thirty years of neoliberal governance have only worsened. Where the Waters Divide is a critical read for scholars of environmental and indigenous politics, and for those engaged in water policy debates, as well as a call to action for environmental justice. -- Laurie Adkin, University of Alberta
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About Michael Mascarenhas

Michael Mascarenhas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an Andrew Mellon Foundation Fellow. He has published in the following books: Environmental Conflict and Democracy in Canada (2009), Twenty Lessons in Environmental Sociology (2008), and in the Institute of Development Studies Bulletin (2012). His work has been featured in the New York Times, Scientist in the Field column and on Scienceline, a web project of NYUs Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program.
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