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Intersections of roads, railroads, drainage, and river. Image courtesy of Sergio Souza.

Introduction to Issue Sixteen

There’s a saying among water professionals that the public only cares about water when there is too much or too little, when there is a flood or a drought…

People moving through the We Are Water MN exhibit.

Guest Editors’ Introduction to Issue Fifteen: We Are Water MN

Water can be described as a molecule, a solvent, a relative, a healer, and a force that both gives and takes life. Reader, what is water to you? If any article in this issue brings you into deeper understanding of the answer to this question, then we have succeeded. Like the We Are Water MN project as a whole, the goal of this issue is to share multiple ways of knowing water and to deepen your relationship with and responsibility to water.

The opening ceremony for the We Are Water MN exhibit at the University of Minnesota.

Introduction to Issue Fifteen

A couple of summers ago, the University hosted an international graduate student workshop on the environmental humanities, that is, interdisciplinary examination of environmental questions from scholars of literature, philosophy, language disciplines, and the like. Not surprisingly, the group wanted to take a Mississippi River boat tour and I was invited along as the University’s resident “river guy.”

A few old houses sit on a rocky shore. The settlement of Kangeq in Southwest Greenland was abandoned in the 1970s. The site has been occupied for thousands of years.

Introduction to Issue Fourteen

Climate change has virtually exploded as a subject of news reports, scientific analysis, and advocacy attention in the past six months. In November, the United States Global Change Research Program released its Fourth National Climate Assessment.  Longstanding debates about the relative importance of mitigation and adaptation have further receded in urgency as this spring’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) finding that a million species are threatened with extinction have grabbed headlines worldwide.

View of the Chixoy River, the Tortugas salt dome, and the Nueve Cerros ridge in 2018. This part of Guatemala was covered in lush forest for over a millennium between the Classic collapse and the land initiatives of the 1980s.

Guest Editors’ Introduction to Issue Fourteen: Climate, Change & People

Archaeologists, by definition, are interested in using various techniques to learn about the human experience in diverse places, from ancient through contemporary times. A key part of this has been understanding human adaptation to diverse environmental and climatic changes over time, and for archaeologists, the long arc of human existence refers to at least around three million years.

Guest Editor’s Introduction to Issue Thirteen: Water & Environmental Justice

The work collected here was written about and on the sovereign land of many First Nations. The place it was assembled—the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities—is a land-grant institution that operates on Mni Sota Makoce (called Minnesota), Dakota land, and alongside and over the Mississippi River whose watershed is the major artery of Turtle Island (called North America).

Aerial of dock on water at Belle Isle, Detroit, United States.

Introduction to Issue Thirteen

Simi Kang agreed to guest edit this issue of Open Rivers, moving our work toward questions of environmental equity and justice, and by extension coming to understand their opposites: environmental inequities, injustices, and racism.

An excavation unit has been carefully laid out and is awaiting excavation at Réaume's Leaf River Post, Minnesota.

Guest Editor’s Introduction to Issue Twelve: Watery Places and Archaeology

Archaeology, the study of past human societies, has a certain aura of mystery to it that captures the public’s imagination. The authors in this issue, myself included, are broadly defined as archaeologists. Not the Indiana Jones kind—more the geeky and scholarly kind, whose job and passion is not only to uncover how past people lived based on the things and structures they left behind, but also to take prodigious amounts of notes, photographs, measurements, and soil samples.

Detail from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.

Introduction to Issue Twelve

A year or so ago, when I met with Amélie Allard about her work on the fur trade in Minnesota, I was interested generally in her observations about that contested, fraught place and time. When she mentioned that participants understood space from the perspective of rivers and water, rather than land, I was hooked, and asked her to think about editing an issue of Open Rivers. This issue is the result, and her guest editor’s introduction speaks more eloquently than I could to the themes and questions raised here.

The Nile River, July 19 2004. To the right of the Nile is the Red Sea, with the finger of the Gulf of Suez on the left, and the Gulf of Aqaba on the right. In the upper right corner of the image are Israel and Palestine, left, and Jordan, right. Below Jordan is the northwestern corner of Saudi Arabia.

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.