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The strong brown god of the Anthropocene
Joanne Yao

The conclusion reflects on how the history of transboundary river cooperation and the creation of the first international organizations is largely absent from IR literature and theorizing, but how despite this absence, the river and its sociopolitical importance permeates IR in the way we privilege the sovereign territorial state, the way we are bound by global hierarchies, and the way we trust in IOs to resolve the collective dilemmas of the twenty-first century. I conclude by contemplating the challenges of the Anthropocene, and in particular, how perpetual economic growth continues to be the modern benchmark for moral and political progress. This standard leads us, as Amitav Ghosh eloquently warns, to a ‘great derangement’. It is my hope that understanding how the standards and desires of modern life emerged from a global history of entanglement between international society and the natural world will allow us to recognize the power and politics behind modern standards of progress – but also, in looking to the future, to challenge the myth that these standards are somehow natural and immovable.

in The ideal river