AnnE rADEMAchEr’s tAlE of braided social and environmental
change in the new ecologies of Kathmandu contributes a uniquely
situated urban perspective to New Ecologies for the Twenty- First
Century. Her work places several challenging questions and reflec-
tions on the table for those who presume to construct such ecologies
through modernist development strategies, whether from “above” or
“below.” Reigning the River addresses theoretical and policy issues of
development, urban ecology, political ecology, and cultural dimen-
sions of nature within processes of urban and metropolitan growth.
The first- person narrative of experience and observation in Kath-
mandu for over a decade is impressive, weaving political crises in
Nepal during the 1990s and early 2000s into a story of ecologically
focused activism and vice versa. The Monarchist scandals, the Maoist
insurgency, and a massive international development establishment,
along with a political revival of Hindu religious tradition and a grow-
ing flood of immigrants to the city’s riverside, all play a part in the
re- making of the river. The Bagmati River is simultaneously sacred to
multiple groups as well as constituting a necessary resource for sev-
eral others with distinct visions of the river’s past, present, and future.
Given the status of Nepal as a major focus of international donor
attention and funding for decades, the development problems, foibles,
structural traps, and lessons woven into this story are relevant to many
other places and circumstances. While I initially found this work to
be an important contribution to the academic literature across mul-
tiple fields, on a second reading I found tremendous resonance with
my own observations and experiences in Kenya, the Dominican Re-
public, Mexico, and the United States. I expect to cite this work with
some frequency in upcoming publications about the damage wrought
by modernist development and conservation megaprojects currently
underway in Mexico and throughout Central America. I can also see
the key points from this story playing out in the sites in New York
City where I take my students each year to study politics, power, and
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