No Longer “Bullying the Rhine:” Giving Narrative a Place in Flood Management

Kenneth Baake, Charlotte Kaempf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we examine changing world views, values, norms and conventions toward the Rhine and other rivers from pre-modern times until today, culminating in an “integrated” approach.” This approach, reflected in a series of European flood management plans, attends to all voices in a watershed (transboundary authorities, local residents, regional engineers) and seeks “natural” solutions in addition to or instead of technological ones. Such shifts in attitude reflect a reawakening of the stories in the form of myths, legends, and folk tales that people have told about the structure and dynamics of their rivers just as much as they reflect scientific knowledge. In order to motivate people to mitigate potential risks of floods and adapt to them, regional authorities must understand the full picture of how area residents understand the rivers that are flood conduits. We review reports of river management plans, including their narratives that undergird the integrated approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-446
JournalEnvironmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture
StatePublished - Dec 2011


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