Erik Swyngedouw

Erik Swyngedouw is Professor of Geography at Manchester University and the author of Liquid Power: Contested Hydro-Modernities in Twentieth-Century Spain (MIT Press).

  • Promises of the Political

    Promises of the Political

    Insurgent Cities in a Post-Political Environment

    Erik Swyngedouw

    The possibility of a new emancipatory and democratizing politics, explored through the lens of recent urban insurgencies.

    In Promises of the Political, Erik Swyngedouw explores whether progressive and emancipatory politics is still possible in a post-political era. Activists and scholars have developed the concept of post-politicization to describe the process by which “the political” is replaced by techno-managerial governance. If the political domain has been systematically narrowed into a managerial apparatus in which consensual governance prevails, where can we find any possibility of a new democratic politics? Swyngedouw examines this question through the lens of recent urban insurgencies. In Zuccotti Park, Paternoster Square, Taksim Square, Tahrir Square, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, he argues, insurgents have gathered to choreograph new configurations of the democratic.

    Swyngedouw grounds his argument in urban and ecological processes, struggles, and conflicts through which post-politicization has become institutionally entrenched. He casts “the city” and “nature” as emblematic of the construction of post-democratic modes of governance. He describes the disappearance of the urban polis into the politics of neoliberal planetary urbanization; and he argues that the political-managerial framing of “nature” and the environment contributes to the formation of depoliticized governance—most notably in the impotent politics of climate change. Finally, he explores the possibilities for a reassertion of the political, considering whether—after the squares are cleared, the tents folded, and everyday life resumes—the urban uprisings of the last several years signal a return of the political.

    • Hardcover $90.00
    • Paperback $30.00
  • Liquid Power

    Liquid Power

    Contested Hydro-Modernities in Twentieth-Century Spain

    Erik Swyngedouw

    An examination of the central role of water politics and engineering in Spain's modernization, illustrating water's part in forging, maintaining, and transforming social power.

    In this book, Erik Swyngedouw explores how water becomes part of the tumultuous processes of modernization and development. Using the experience of Spain as a lens to view the interplay of modernity and environmental transformation, Swyngedouw shows that every political project is also an environmental project.

    In 1898, Spain lost its last overseas colony, triggering a period of post-imperialist turmoil still referred to as El Disastre. Turning inward, the nation embarked on “regeneration” and modernization. Water played a central role in this; during a turbulent period from the twentieth century into the twenty-first—through the Franco years and into the new era of liberal democracy—Spain's waterscapes were completely transformed, with large-scale projects that ranged from dam construction to irrigation to desalinization. Swyngedouw describes the contested political-ecological process that marked this transformation, showing that the Spain's diverse and contested paths to modernization were predicated on particular trajectories of environmental transformation.

    After laying out his theoretical perspectives, Swyngedouw analyzes three periods of Spain's political-ecological modernization: the aspirations and stalled modernization of the early twentieth century; the accelerated efforts under the authoritarian Franco regime—which included six hundred dams, expanded hydroelectricity, and massive irrigation; and the changing hydro-social landscape under social democracy. Offering an innovative perspective on the relationship of nature and society, Liquid Power illuminates the political nature of nature.

    • Hardcover $35.00