Joe Williams is a PhD researcher in the Department of Geography at the University of Manchester. His thesis, entitled ‘The ocean bountiful? The political ecologies of seawater desalination in Southern California’ is supervised by Erik Swyngedouw and Stefan Bouzarovski.
Through an empirical analysis of the contested deployment of large-scale seawater desalination as an extraordinary alternative water source option for Southern California, Joe’s research offers critical insights on the water-energy nexus. Nexus thinking is an emerging concept in academic and policy circles that calls for an approach to environmental governance that reflects the interrelations, tensions and synergies between sectors that have traditionally been considered as distinct. Joe conducted fieldwork in San Diego, where the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere was recently completed, and in Baja California, Mexico, where a proposed ‘binational’ facility will supply both sides of the border with purified seawater. Theoretically, Joe draws on Political Ecology notions of the re-configuration of nature and society under neoliberal capitalism. Joe also draws on STS and assemblage concepts of political materiality to consider the peculiar ways in which desalting technologies draw together water and energy into particular socio-technical configurations.
Joe can be contacted at email@example.com