Inderscience Publishers

Hydropolitics is what societies make of it (or why we need a constructivist approach to the geopolitics of water)

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Although the study of hydropolitics (i.e. the geopolitics of water) is mainly an offshoot of the discipline of International Relations (IR), the use of IR conceptual tools remains largely implicit in the literature. As a result, theoretical exploration has been very limited in hydropolitics and is usually cast within IR's traditional divide between realism and liberalism. This is problematic because the quest for a predictive and parsimonious science of politics that characterises mainstream IR theory may be overly rigid and too narrow a strategy to understand the full diversity exhibited by water–related interstate relations around the globe. With its anti–deterministic and pro–human agency stance, constructivism constitutes a promising alternative approach to hydropolitics that can be explored if theorisation is made explicit. In this regard, securitisation theory is one example of constructivism's great potential in hydropolitical analysis.

Keywords: hydropolitics, water geopolitics, environmental security, constructivism, rationalism, international relations theories, societal choices, sustainable society, securitisation theory, water crisis, water scarcity, water wars, water conflict, water cooperation, water security, water rationality, water resources, sustainability

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