Everyday water injustice and the politics of accommodation

Cleaver, Frances (2018) Everyday water injustice and the politics of accommodation. In: Water Justice. Cambridge University Press, pp. 246-258. ISBN 9781107179080

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Domino-Centric Perspectives on Water Justice. This chapter takes as its starting point the call from activists and academics for water justice and for better understanding of how this can be achieved. I argue that, though important and often inspiring, such critical studies often over-focus on struggle and resistance at the expense of understanding the more common ways in which water injustices are routinized, accepted and reproduced by those who suffer from them. Water justice literature aims to understand the dimensions of injustice and inequality that underpin a perceived world water crisis, and to identify the possibility of alternative water orders. The contributions are varied, examples including: manifestos (Petrella, 2001; Santa Cruz, 2014); moves to theorize water justice and governance (Perreault, 2014); studies of struggles for the right to water (Sultana and Loftus, 2012) and of water “wars” (Graham et al., 2013; Perera, 2012); explorations of anti-privatization movements (Spronk, 2007); water relations viewed through an environmental-justice lens (Mehta et al., 2014; McDonald, 2004); analyses of gendered contestations over water access (Delgado and Zwarteveen, 2007); and examinations of embedding unjust water distributions in culture and politics (Boelens, 2014). This work is important in our understanding of the politics of water allocations and in scrutinizing policy ideas that equity and water rights can be furthered through markets or through technical and managerial processes (Joy et al., 2014). Often located in political ecology or critical geography approaches, water justice studies advocate context-specific understandings of justice, manifestations of injustice and the “always-contested” nature of water allocations (Zwarteveen and Boelens, 2014). Much of this literature focuses on explicit instances of struggle, and references to protest, opposition, resistance, mobilizations, contestation and conflict abound. Taxonomies of water conflict are offered (Rodríguez-Labajos and Martínez-Alier, 2015) and dimensions of contestation usefully anatomized (Zwarteveen and Boelens, 2014). There is a strong theme in the literature linking the defense of local water values to achieving water justice, and linking social mobilizations around water to the advance of democracy (Hoogesteger and Verzijl, 2015; Loftus, 2014; Bond and Dugard, 2008). The Santa Cruz Declaration (2014: 249) summarizes this well: “Actions and research for more justice need to be explicitly connected to and grounded in people’s experiences of injustice and their strategies and struggles to contest and remedy it”.

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20 Jul 2020 15:45
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21 Sep 2023 04:01