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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Canals Spawn Dams? Exploring the Filiation of Hydraulic Infrastructure

Julie Trottier and Sara Fernandez

Environment and History 16 (2010): 97-123. doi: 10.3197/096734010X485319

This article studies the aetiology underlying water managementby exploring the social hermeneutics that determined its construction. It details how science, technology and political relations construct each other mutually, both producing and harnessing the scientific discourse on the environment. Supply management continues to prevail, in spite of contradictory claims, through the filiation process linking successive generations of water infrastructure. The case study of the Neste Canal inducing the construction of the Charlas Dam, allows the identification of three types of mechanisms participating in the construction of water deficits that now lead both proponents and opponents of dam construction to harness the environmental discourse. The first lies in the social construction of water science and technology. The second lies in the evolution of power relations among the various actors. The third lies in the insertion of the 'expert' within these power relations.

KEYWORDS: Water politics, sociology of science, water scarcity, environmental narrative, Neste Canal, Garonne River

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