Issue Eleven : Summer 2018

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Introduction to Issue Eleven

When I heard about the Nobel Peace Prize Forum’s 2018 focus on “The Paradox of Water,” I hoped for a connection between our journal and the perspectives that speakers would bring to the gathering.  Here, thanks to a great deal of hard work by many people, not least Augsburg political scientist Joseph B. Underhill, is the result: a collection of features and columns that explores some of the many paradoxes of water.

Guest Editor’s Introduction to Issue Eleven: The Paradoxes of Peace and Water

This issue of Open Rivers, anticipating and drawing on the upcoming Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis, explores the complex intertwining and paradoxes of water, conflict, and peace. Anything so fundamental and complex as water or peace must, of necessity, contain seemingly contradictory or opposite qualities. The beauty of water is in how it reconciles and provides space for those complex, muddy mixes of qualities and characteristics.

Water as a Source of Regional Cooperation in the Middle East: The Work of EcoPeace Middle East in Jordan, Israel, and Palestine

Water is at the core of sustaining all life on earth, and the people who have inhabited the arid and semi-arid lands of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region throughout the centuries know this very well. Scarcity of water in the region has shaped its history and geopolitics, including into the present day, with climate change and population growth putting more pressure on already scarce water resources (World Bank 2018).

Meandering and Riversphere: The Potential of Paradox

Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BCE-475 BCE) was the master of paradox: “It rests by changing,” “a thing agrees at variance with itself,” and “the same: living and dead, and the waking and the sleeping, and the young and the old” (Kahn 1979, Fragments LII, LXXVIII, XCIII). Both Plato and Aristotle saw his views as logically incoherent and inconsistent with the law of non-contradiction.

The Sources of the Nile and Paradoxes of Religious Waters

The River Nile has long been a subject of study and veneration. From the earliest times the Nile has presented problems upon which men have speculated. “Two of the most important which have been discussed since the time of Herodotus, the position of the sources of the Nile and the origin of its annual flood, were solved during the last and at the beginning of the present century.”[1]

Writing the River

What does the river say to you? This is the core question posed by Write to the River, a creative writing project that I launched in partnership with the Twin Cities nonprofit Friends of the Mississippi River and photographer Tom Reiter, in spring 2017.

Paradoxes of Water: A Reading List

Questions about water are often implicitly about systems of power. The benefits and impacts of how water is used, distributed, and accessed are unevenly distributed. Water thus becomes a site where the inequalities in society are made visible and contestation arises. The readings listed here offer a sample of some of the ways water is implicated in systems of inequality and work toward social justice.