chapter  1
18 Pages

The Presence of the Past: A Historical Ecology of Basque Commons and the French State

Water, the natural resource on which all life depends, can also be understood as a metaphor. It deserves serious study both as a natural and a symbolic resource. Multidisciplinary approaches to the study of water embrace numerous different branches of knowledge, creating an ever more complex array of facts, figures, and arguments. This chapter examines water as a symbolic resource capable of activating the representation of identities and stirring up emotions. In Aragon, however, two different representations exist, and they clash. The tooth-and-nail defenders of water projects use Aragonese irredentism to argue that damming rivers to irrigate new land will save the country. The widespread development of irrigation in the Ebro Valley that was necessary to fulfil the 'promise of water' required the construction of dams in the Pyrenean highlands. The lowlands' thirst should have been considered in relation to the scarcity of land in the highlands.