Ken Conca

Ken Conca is Associate Professor of Government and Politics and Director of the Harrison Program on the Future Global Agenda at the University of Maryland.

  • Governing Water

    Governing Water

    Contentious Transnational Politics and Global Institution Building

    Ken Conca

    Water is a key component of critical ecosystems, a marketable commodity, a foundation of local communities and cultures, and a powerful means of social control. It has become a source of contentious politics and social controversy on a global scale, and the management of water conflicts is one of the biggest challenges in the effort to achieve effective global environmental governance.

    In Governing Water, Ken Conca examines political struggles to create a global framework for the governance of water. Threats to the world's rivers, watersheds, and critical freshwater ecosystems have resisted the establishment of effective global agreements through intergovernmental bargaining because the conditions for successful interstate cooperation—effective state authority, stable knowledge frameworks, and a territorialized understanding of nature—cannot be imposed upon water controversies. But while interstate water diplomacy has faltered, less formalized institutions—socially and politically embedded rules, roles, and practices—have emerged to help shape water governance locally and globally.

    Conca examines the politics of these institutions, presenting a framework for understanding global environmental governance based on key institutional presumptions about territoriality, authority, and knowledge. He maps four distinct processes of institution building: formal international regimes for shared rivers; international networking among water experts and professionals; social movements opposing the construction of large dams; and the struggle surrounding transnational water "marketization." These cases illustrate the potential for alternative institutional forms in situations where traditional interstate regimes are ineffective.

    • Hardcover $70.00
    • Paperback $39.00 £30.00
  • Confronting Consumption

    Confronting Consumption

    Thomas Princen, Michael Maniates, and Ken Conca

    Comforting terms such as "sustainable development" and "green production" frame environmental debate by stressing technology (not green enough), economic growth (not enough in the right places), and population (too large). Concern about consumption emerges, if at all, in benign ways; as calls for green purchasing or more recycling, or for small changes in production processes. Many academics, policymakers, and journalists, in fact, accept the economists' view of consumption as nothing less than the purpose of the economy. Yet many people have a troubled, intuitive understanding that tinkering at the margins of production and purchasing will not put society on an ecologically and socially sustainable path.

    Confronting Consumption places consumption at the center of debate by conceptualizing "the consumption problem" and documenting diverse efforts to confront it. In Part 1, the book frames consumption as a problem of political and ecological economy, emphasizing core concepts of individualization and commoditization. Part 2 develops the idea of distancing and examines transnational chains of consumption in the context of economic globalization. Part 3 describes citizen action through local currencies, home power, voluntary simplicity, "ad-busting," and product certification. Together, the chapters propose "cautious consuming" and "better producing" as an activist and policy response to environmental problems. The book concludes that confronting consumption must become a driving focus of contemporary environmental scholarship and activism.

    • Hardcover $80.00 £55.95
    • Paperback $19.75 £14.99

Contributor

  • New Earth Politics

    New Earth Politics

    Essays from the Anthropocene

    Simon Nicholson and Sikina Jinnah

    Prominent scholars and practitioners consider the role of global environmental politics in the face of increasing environmental stress.

    Humanity's collective impact on the Earth is vast. The rate and scale of human-driven environmental destruction is quickly outstripping our political and social capacities for managing it. We are in effect creating an Earth 2.0 on which the human signature is everywhere, a “new earth” in desperate need of humane and insightful guidance. In this volume, prominent scholars and practitioners in the field of global environmental politics consider the ecological and political realities of life on the new earth, and probe the field's deepest and most enduring questions at a time of increasing environmental stress. Arranged in complementary pairs, the essays in this volume include reflections on environmental pedagogy, analysis of new geopolitical realities, reflections on the power of social movements and international institutions, and calls for more compelling narratives to promote environmental action.

    At the heart of the volume is sustained attention to the role of traditional scholarly activities in a world confronting environmental disaster. Some contributors make the case that it is the scholar's role to provide activists with the necessary knowledge and tools; others argue for more direct engagement and political action. All the contributors confront the overriding question: What is the best use of their individual and combined energies, given the dire environmental reality?

    Contributors Erik Assadourian, Frank Biermann, Wil Burns, Ken Conca, Peter Dauvergne, Daniel Deudney, Navroz Dubash, Richard Falk, Joyeeta Gupta, Maria Ivanova, Peter Jacques, Sikina Jinnah, Karen T. Litfin, Michael F. Maniates, Elizabeth Mendenhall, Simon Nicholson, Kate O'Neill, Judith Shapiro, Paul Wapner, Oran R. Young

    • Hardcover $19.75 £14.99
    • Paperback $35.00 £27.00