Hydropolitics

The most interesting concept that I have been grappling with during this week of coursework is the phenomenal impact of the Nile River on the entire country of Egypt.  The article “The Dynamics of a Riverine Civilization…” by Hassan, presents the idea that riverine agriculture was a major energizing force for all of Egyptian humanity.  Hassan goes as far as stating that “Riverine agriculture was an enabling force providing humanity with the means to alter nature and mobilize enormous resources for achievements in art and intellectual pursuits” (51).  Before reading this article I never would have considered a large body of water as being capable of supporting artistic and intellectual advancements.  This idea was further supported in Ethan’s lecture (9/6/12) during his discussion of the Aswan High Dam.  The Aswan High Dam was said to be representative of how the lives of ancient Egyptians were completely intertwined and dependent on the Nile River.  The dam functioned as a means of controlling the inundation, but this was only a miniscule part of its function.  Not only did the dam provide a means of complete water control, it also enabled Egyptians to change the topography of their environment which in turn altered their agricultural system allowing for an increase in production.

In similar vein, this week’s readings have also introduced me to a new term, ‘Hydropolitics’.  The concept of water being a source of survival and therefore struggle and war, and then eventually this warfare leading to the rise of the state is mind boggling to me.  I googled the word ‘Hydropolitics’ and without even reading the articles associated with the term, but only the titles, I noticed some very interesting relationships.  In the first page of my google search, every article associated with the word ‘Hydropolitics’ also discussed either war or peace.  War was involved with any attempt to control the water. Peace on the other hand was discussed as the potential ways to keep the peace when many third world countries are struggling to get access to water and believe that the only viable solution to their struggle is going to war.  Looking at the Nile River from a socio-political perspective is a completely new and very intriguing topic for me.  Great introduction to ancient Egypt and quite eye opening to realize that ‘Hydropolitics’ remain a dominant force in the Third World to the present day.