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Virtuous Waters

Mineral Springs, Bathing, and Infrastructure in Mexico

Casey Walsh (Author)

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Virtuous Waters is a pathbreaking and innovative study of bathing, drinking and other everyday engagements with a wide range of waters across five centuries in Mexico. Casey Walsh uses political ecology to bring together an analysis of shifting scientific, religious and political understandings of waters and a material history of social formations, environments, and infrastructures. The book shows that while modern concepts and infrastructures have come to dominate both the hydrosphere and the scholarly literature on water, longstanding popular understandings and engagements with these heterogeneous liquids have been reproduced as part of the same process. Attention to these dynamics can help us comprehend and confront the water crisis that is coming to a head in the twenty-first century. 
Casey Walsh is Associate Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Barbara. He is the author of Building the Borderlands: A Transnational History of Irrigated Cotton along the Mexico-Texas Border.
"Virtuous Waters reminds us that, within wider homogenizing discourses, there are multiple unique waters, whose particular ‘virtues’ are central in defining how people have imagined, understood, and interacted with them over time. The cumulative appropriation of Mexico’s mineral springs by religious, state, and corporate agencies also highlights the importance of protecting community relationships with local water sources."—Veronica Strang, author of Gardening the World: Agency, Identity, and the Ownership of Water

"In this highly original and accessible study, Casey Walsh plunges readers into seldom explored depths of the cultural world of water in central Mexico, providing a refreshing approach that goes beyond infrastructure to immerse readers in in routine practices of bathing, washing, and drinking water and their links to colonialism, public health, sexuality, tourism, and neoliberalism."—John Soluri, author of Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States

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