Points of convergence: Deploying the geographies of critical nexus-thinking

Catherine Walker, Benjamin Coles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, the concept of ‘nexus’ has become a metaphor for resource interactions (particularly between food, water and energy), a policy apparatus to address resource sustainability and an object of academic analysis. Contending that the ways that nexus has been conceptualised and applied so far are invariably incomplete, this paper marks a concerted attempt to draw geographical scholarship into the conceptualisation of nexus-thinking to offer a more complete reading of resource geographies and their underlying interactions. We present critical nexus-thinking as a conceptual framework for tracing the geographies fashioned by resource nexuses, including the enrolment of human and non-human populations into such nexuses, and how the governance of both routine resource interactions and of ‘shocks’ can impact on such populations. To mobilise critical nexus-thinking as a conceptual framework, we draw out three points of convergence between nexus policy logics and critical geographic/scientific scholarship: socio-material-ecological interactions, politics of scale, and flows, blockages and dis/connectivity. We deploy critical nexus-thinking through analysis that extends the 2014/2015 ‘water crisis’ in the São Paulo Metropolitan Area to other sites, spaces and materials in order to critically evaluate the politics, materiality and spatiality of resource governance, and we use this example to point to how scholars might apply critical nexus-thinking analyses in other contexts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning E: Nature and Space
Early online date8 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2021


  • nexus-thinking
  • resources
  • water
  • environmental governance
  • politics of scale
  • Brazil

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Consumption Institute


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