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River-Basin Politics and the Rise of Ecological and Transnational Democracy in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Sneddon, Chris; Fox, Coleen
Journal: Water Alternatives
Volume: 1
Page(s): 66-88
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6380
Sector: Social Organization
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Africa
Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): Mekong River region
Zambezi River
environmental policy
Abstract: "In recent years, debates over 'deliberative', 'transnational' and 'ecological' democracy have proliferated, largely among scholars engaged in discussions of modernisation, globalisation and political identity. Within this broad context, scholars and practitioners of environmental governance have advanced the argument that a democratic society will produce a more environmentally conscious society. We want to make a volte-face of this argument and ask: to what extent does engagement with environmental politics and, specifically, water politics, contribute to processes of democratisation? After reviewing some of the contributions to debates over 'ecological' and 'transnational' democracy, we explore this question within the context of conflicts over river-basin development in Southeast Asia and southern Africa. We argue that there are multiple pathways to democratisation and that, in some cases, the environment as a political issue does constitute a significant element of democratisation. But notions of 'ecological' and 'transnational' democracy must embody how both 'environment' and 'the transnational', as mobilised by specific social movements in specific historical and geographical circumstances, are politically constructed."

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