Wolfe, M. 2017. Watering the Revolution: an environmental and technological history of agrarian reform in Mexico. Duke University Press. Paperback: $26.95 – ISN 978-0-8223-6374-3
Wageningen University, The Netherlands; email: Jaime.Hoogesteger@wur.nl
Mikael Wolfe presents a fascinating and well documented historical account of the socio-political and technological processes that led to basin closure and groundwater overdraft in the region of the Comarca Lagunera in Northern Mexico between 1900 and 1970. In the analysis of the expansion of irrigation in the region he wittily couples the development of technologies for surface and groundwater control, climatic variability, social struggle, national politics, elite capture, political ideology, and agrarian, water and land policies through time. His focus on social equity (which concentrates mostly on the role of the ejido) and environmental sustainability gives important insights on the tensions that exist between environmental sustainability and the strong push for water based socio-economic development in arid regions. Though the book does not directly engage with debates on basin closure and (ground)water governance it is a very valuable contribution to better understand the contested nature of these processes through the case of the Comarca Lagunera and Mexico.