Institutt for geografi


The pioneering History of Water series brings a much needed historical perspective to the relationship between water and society. The volumes in the series aim to show how history and development – from the birth of civilization to the present day – may be enriched, and new understandings and reinterpretations realised, by a proper awareness of the significance of water. Water issues can only be fully understood when all aspects – social, cultural, political religious and technological – are properly integrated.


The series brings together scholars from a wide range of disciplines and an unprecedented number of countries, to present a unique overview of water issues in different regions of the world. Narratives of human/water relations from around the globe provide a wealth of analysis and information. Building upon the success of the first series, Series II begins with three volumes that present original articles on the history of our ideas of water (volume I); how human/river relations have shaped important historical transformation processes (volume II); and how the struggle to control water is an issue of growing geopolitical importance (volume III).


This first ever series on the role of water in history is

- Ideal for teachers teaching world history and for students studying world history.
- Written by some of the world’s most eminent scholars in their fields
- Extensive coverage of all the continents
- A number of maps, drawings and illustrations


The Series editor of the two series is historian, professor in political science and professor at the Department of Geography, University of Bergen, Terje Tvedt. The work started back in 2001 when Tvedt and his colleagues was responsible for organizing the biggest conference on water and history ever, with participants from more than 70 countries here in Bergen. Series II in “A History of Water” was developed while Tvedt was leader of the international research group “Water in History and Development” at Centre for Advanced Studies at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo in 2008-2009.


Volume 1: Ideas of Water from Ancient Societies to the Modern World

Edited by Terje Tvedt and Terje Ostigard

October 2009, 496 pages
ISBN: 9781845119805

How has water been perceived in different societies and across different eras of world history? How have these changing conceptions informed and influenced our understandings of society and ourselves? In Ideas of Water leading international scholars explore the rich record of our ideas, from the beliefs of early societies to the latest scientific views on the nature of this unique substance. Exploring all aspects of water – scientific, cultural and religious – Ideas of Water challenges conventional understandings and interpretations of water in nature, and represents one of the first attempts to provide a history of our changing ideas of the role of water in human society.


Volume 2: Rivers and Societies: From the Birth of Agriculture to Modern Times

Edited by Terje Tvedt and Richard Coopey

June 2010, 550 pages
ISBN: 9781848853508

Rivers and Society explores the ways in which human/river relations have shaped important historical transformation processes. With examples ranging from explorations of classical agrarian civilisations such as the Indus, Angkor and Maya to analyses of the role of water in the modernisation process of countries such as Spain, Britain and Japan, the contributors shed new light on the ways in which the key relationship between humans and water has given rise to new forms of social organisation, new technologies and economic activities.


Volume 3: Water and Geopolitics in the New World Order

Edited by Terje Tvedt, Graham Chapman and Roar Hagen

September 2010, 584 pages
ISBN: 9781848853515

As the world’s population continues to grow apace and an increasing number of countries aspire to a twenty first century lifestyle, so the question of access to water resources becomes ever more critical. This timely volume shows how water is becoming an issue of growing geopolitical importance: locally, regionally and globally. Drawing on a wealth of contrasting examples, and revealing how current problems are not necessarily new as often suggested, the international contributors also seek to provide a deeper theoretical analysis of the issues and of the close association of water and power and the potential of cooperative solutions.



Series Editor: Terje Tvedt, University of Bergen 2005-2006

Vol. 1: Water Control and River Biographies (ISBN: 9781850434450)

Vol. 2: The Political Economy of Water (ISBN: 9781850434467)

Vol. 3: The World of Water (ISBN: 9781850434474)

More than 2,000 years ago, Pausanias, the Greek geographer who travelled throughout the Ancient world, declared that no city had the right to call itself a city unless it had at its centre an ornamental fountain. And Sextus Julius Frontinus, the planner responsible for providing Ancient Rome with its fresh water, complained at the acclaim accorded the useless Egyptian pyramids and Greek temples whilst the absolutely essential water structures of Rome were disregarded.

The cultural and historical importance of water are just two of the many aspects of water explored in this unique three volume work. Ranging from ancient times to the present day, all aspects – social, cultural, political, religious, historical, economic and technological – are encompassed. The result is one of the most complete and up to date accounts of the vital role played by water in the history and development of human civilization, and of its continuing importance for the modern world.

These three volumes present an original exploration of all aspects of water – social, cultural, political, religious, historical, economic and technological – from ancient times until the present day. Among the varied themes, the contributors examine the changing histories of water as a private or common good, and the politics of water at local, urban, national and international levels. With empirical and ethnographic case studies from around the world, the three volumes together represent one of the most complete and up to date accounts of the central role of water in the history and development of humanity.

The two series are available from www.ibtauris.com