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Reigning the River: Urban Ecologies and Political Transformation in Kathmandu (New ecologies for the twenty-first century) [Kindle Edition]

Anne Rademacher

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Book Description

A major contribution to the nascent anthropology of urban environments, Reigning the River illuminates the complexities of river restoration in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital and one of the fastest-growing cities in South Asia. In this rich ethnography, Anne M. Rademacher explores the ways that urban riverscape improvement involved multiple actors, each constructing ideals of restoration through contested histories and ideologies of belonging. She examines competing understandings of river restoration, particularly among bureaucrats in state and conservation-development agencies, cultural heritage activists, and advocates for the security of tens of thousands of rural-to-urban migrants settled along the exposed riverbed.

Rademacher conducted research during a volatile period in Nepal’s political history. As clashes between Maoist revolutionaries and the government intensified, the riverscape became a site of competing claims to a capital city that increasingly functioned as a last refuge from war-related violence. In this time of intense flux, efforts to ensure, create, or imagine ecological stability intersected with aspirations for political stability. Throughout her analysis, Rademacher emphasizes ecology as an important site of dislocation, entitlement, and cultural meaning.

Product Description


"Cutting-edge social science has not kept pace with the shift of most of the human population to urban areas. Anne Rademacher helps to remedy this deficiency by asking, as one of her informants did of her, 'What is urban ecology?' In answer, she employs the Bagmati and Bishnumati rivers in Kathmandu as a 'lens' to examine how urban nature and culture are mutually produced, reinforced, and changed, deftly interweaving recent political and environmental transformations in Nepal. The result is a pioneering study of the moral and affective dimensions of a twenty-first century urban environment. Rademacher's study is a model for a new generation of urban studies, which will link cities to their histories and hinterlands, their politics and cultures, as well as their bio-physical settings." Michael R. Dove, Yale University "This lucidly written and rigorously argued book is likely to become a major contribution to the anthropology of the Himalayan environment, and to the small but growing literature on urban modernity in Nepal. The sorry state of the Bagmati is, in the eyes of environmental activists, a metaphor for the state of Nepal itself, and in elucidating their critique and their vision for a more ordered and coherent future, Anne Rademacher has also made a deeply original contribution to political anthropology. This book deserves to be widely read by both students of Himalayan society, culture and politics, and by those who work in the areas of Nepal's environment, development and governance. The clarity of the writing makes it especially suitable as an undergraduate text in a range of courses on environment and development, political anthropology, urban anthropology and South Asian studies." Arjun Guneratne, Macalester College

About the Author

Anne M. Rademacher is Assistant Professor of Environmental and Metropolitan Studies in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1798 KB
  • Print Length: 266 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0822350807
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (1 Oct. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005TI93UG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,073,647 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for undergraduates (and their professors). 8 Sept. 2012
By debaprof - Published on
I taught this excellent ethnography in a course for undergraduates (mostly sophomores, juniors, some seniors), about ethnography in and of South Asia. It worked extremely well, and was by far the students' favorite of the five full-length ethnographies that we read in the course, many of which are classics in the field. In fact, it inspired final research projects about cultural perceptions and activism around the environment in South Asia.

The students were very excited about the way in which it integrates environmental science perspectives and cultural analysis. This text really charts new ground in combining these modes of analysis, as the preface and introduction articulate. The students were extremely enthusiastic about the emergence of such a field that the book heralds; I could see the book inspiring some of them to enter into such studies.

The book is written with a level of thoughtfulness, kindness, and writerly craft that is fairly rare, and that renders it a pleasure for undergrads (and their profs) to read, and is amenable to teaching. It is so well written that I've recommended it to my parents (non-social scientists), and would recommend it to general readers as well. Environmental policy folks will find the book readable and extremely pertinent to their work. At the same time, it's theoretically and topically rigorous enough to work really well in a graduate topical seminar.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for undergraduates interested in South Asia 14 Sept. 2012
By ahmay - Published on
I was first introduced to this wonderful ethnography in an undergraduate anthropology course, and it remains one of the most engaging and cogent texts I've read over the course of my college career. For those in the class who felt previous ethnographies had not done their major interests justice, Anne Rademacher's work identified a variety of environmental, cultural, religious, and political perspectives that captured the wide-ranging intellectual curiosities of every student in the course. I was certainly not alone in responding positively to Reigning the River; by the end of the semester, nearly all of my peers had chosen to reference Radamacher's analysis in their final presentations.

Although I do not consider myself to be an environmental science enthusiast per se, I truly believe this ethnography offers fresh insights to any student, academic, professional, or individual eager to learn about the evolving state of South Asian conservation. It was one of the first "required reads" I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in environmental anthropology, intersections of state-making and urban ecology, or the study of South Asia more broadly.
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