The Ideal River: How Control of Nature Shaped the International Order (Hardback)
  • The Ideal River: How Control of Nature Shaped the International Order (Hardback)

The Ideal River: How Control of Nature Shaped the International Order (Hardback)

Hardback 264 Pages
Published: 08/03/2022
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Environmental politics has traditionally been a peripheral concern for international relations theory, but increasing alarm over global environmental challenges has elevated international society’s relationship with the natural world into the theoretical limelight. IR theory’s engagement with environmental politics, however, has largely focused on interstate cooperation in the late twentieth century, with less attention paid to how the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century quest to tame nature came to shape the modern international order.

The ideal river examines nineteenth-century efforts to establish international commissions on three transboundary rivers – the Rhine, the Danube, and the Congo. It charts how the Enlightenment ambition to tame the natural world, and human nature itself, became an international standard for rational and civilized authority and informed our geographical imagination of the international. This relationship of domination over nature shaped three core IR concepts central to the emergence of early international order: the territorial sovereign state; imperial hierarchies; and international organizations. The book contributes to environmental politics and international relations by highlighting how the relationship between society and nature is not a peripheral concern, but one at the heart of international politics.

Publisher: Manchester University Press
ISBN: 9781526154385
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 585 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 19 mm


Winner of the ISA 2024 Harold and Margaret Sprout AwardWinner of the BISA 2023 L.H.M. Ling Outstanding First Book Prize2023 Sussex International Theory Book Prize (Honourable Mention)'This is a brilliant book: erudite, thoughtful, beautifully written, richly analysed and theoretically sophisticated. It makes us look again at the way control of rivers – as nature, as resource, as colonial or territorial space – has shaped so many international doctrines, institutions and contestations.'Laleh Khalili, author of Sinews of War and Trade'In sum, Yao's book makes a strong case for paying attention to and leveraging historical material in IR. This is a crucial contribution to the literature, which should inspire others to extend this framework to the study of other environmental agreements or organizations. The book will be of great interest to several research and policy audiences. Particularly, scholars within hydro-politics will find this book useful as it showcases important milestones towards the establishment of river basin governance. Here, the book persuasively demonstrates how environmental politics can enrich our understanding of international organizations more generally.'Stefan Döring, International Affairs - .

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