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Brown studies power relationships and their impact on the natural world. She has done extensive ethnographic research on environmental protection movements around Lake Baikal in Russia. She has also examined environmental activism in Samara, Russia. Additionally, Brown has published on energy policy in U.S. states and water conservation policy in U.S. municipalities.
Uses three case studies of urban water conflict in the United States in order to identify and compare solutions. Examines the different approaches that these three cities adopted in the face of water stress and conflict, as well as the relative strength each approach brought to water conservation. Finds that entrenched conflict over local water resources usually requires action from a higher governing authority.
Puts forward one contributing factor to explain the apparent contradiction between arid locations and weak water conservation policies (and vice versa): the variable "visibility" of stressed water resources.