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Out of the Mainstream: Water Rights, Politics and Identity

Out of the Mainstream: Water Rights, Politics and Identity

by Rutgerd Boelens, David Getches, Armando Guevara-Gil

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ISBN-10: 184971455X

ISBN-13: 9781849714556

Pub. Date: 11/04/2011

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Water is not only a source of life and culture. It is also a source of power, conflicting interests and identity battles. Rights to materially access, culturally organize and politically control water resources are poorly understood by mainstream scientific approaches and hardly addressed by current normative frameworks. These issues become even more challenging


Water is not only a source of life and culture. It is also a source of power, conflicting interests and identity battles. Rights to materially access, culturally organize and politically control water resources are poorly understood by mainstream scientific approaches and hardly addressed by current normative frameworks. These issues become even more challenging when law and policy-makers and dominant power groups try to grasp, contain and handle them in multicultural societies. The struggles over the uses, meanings and appropriation of water are especially well-illustrated in Andean communities and local water systems of Peru, Chile, Ecuador,
and Bolivia, as well as in Native American communities in south-western USA.

The problem is that throughout history, these nation-states have attempted to 'civilize' and bring into the mainstream the different cultures and peoples within their borders instead of understanding 'context' and harnessing the strengths and potentials of diversity. This book examines the multi-scale struggles for cultural justice and socio-economic re-distribution that arise as Latin American communities and user federations seek access to water resources and decision-making power regarding their control and management. It is set in the dynamic context of unequal, globalizing power relations, politics of scale and identity, environmental encroachment and the increasing presence of extractive industries that are creating additional pressures on local livelihoods.

While much of the focus of the book is on the Andean Region, a number of comparative chapters are also included. These address issues such as water rights and defence strategies in neighbouring countries and those of
Native American people in the southern USA, as well as state reform and multi-culturalism across Latin and Native America and the use of international standards in struggles for indigenous water rights. This book shows that,
against all odds, people are actively contesting neoliberal globalization and water power plays. In doing so, they construct new, hybrid water rights systems, livelihoods, cultures and hydro-political networks, and dynamically challenge the mainstream powers and politics.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures, Tables and Boxes xi

Acknowledgements xiii

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations xv

Part I An Introduction to Water Rights, Power, Identity and Social Struggle

1 Water Struggles and the Politics of Identity Rutgerd Boelens David Getches Armando Guevara-Gil 3

Introduction 3

Water rights, collectives and identity in the Andean countries 7

Contents of the book 11

Water rights, water territories and the politics of scale and identity 17

2 Water Property Relations and Modern Policy Regimes: Neoliberal Utopia and the Disempowerment of Collective Action Hans Achterhuis Rutgerd Boelens Margreet Zwarteveen 27

Introduction 27

Utopian dreams and dystopian nightmares 29

Neoliberal capitalism as a Utopia? 30

Understanding water policies as Utopian neoliberal projects 42

Conclusions 50

3 The Limits of State Reform and Multiculturalism in Latin America: Contemporary Illustrations Willem Assies 57

Three decades of indigenous struggle 57

Evaluating the new multiculturalism 59

Multicultural policies in Latin America 61

Conclusions 70

4 A Masculine Water World: The Politics of Gender and Identity in Irrigation Expert Thinking Margreet Zwarteveen 75

Introduction 75

Misrepresenting women and gender in irrigation 76

Power, perspective and knowledge 77

Gendered metaphors and dichotomies 81

Technical and management systems and boundaries 84

Conclusions 89

Part II Politics of Identity and Andean Livelihoods

5 Identity Politics and Indigenous Movements in Andean History Michiel Baud 99

Introduction 99

Equality and exclusion in Latin America 101

The 'liberal' revolution in Ecuador, 1895 103

Indigenistas and anthropologists 105

The emergence of indigenous movements in the late 20th century 108

Indigenous movements and contemporary politics 111

Conclusions 113

6 Cultural Identity and Indigenous Water Rights in the Andean Highlands Paul H. Gelles 119

Introduction: Water and identity in the Central Andes 119

Indigenous people, Andean culture and the politics of representation 120

The highland community and water 127

Indigenous mobilization and the cultural politics of water 131

Conclusions 137

7 Land, Water and the Search for Sustainable Livelihood in the Andes Annelies Zoomers 145

Introduction 145

The 'Andean attitude' to natural resources: The holistic picture 149

Current patterns of land and water tenure: A basis for sustainable livelihoods? 151

Land and water as criteria for well-being and social mobility 156

Conclusions and policy implications 159

Part III Tensions and Mergers Among Local Water Rights and National Policies

8 Water Laws, Collective Rights and System Diversity in the Andean Countries Jan Hendriks 165

Introduction 165

Legal security of water rights 166

Individual rights and system rights 169

Diversity of systems 173

Water, territoriality and community 178

Conclusions 180

9 Water Rights and Conflicts in an Inter-Andean Watershed: The Achamayo River Valley, Junín, Peru Armando Guevara-Gil 183

Introduction 183

Official design versus local reality 184

Water organization and management in the Achamayo River Basin 186

Conflicts over water and legal pluralism in an inter-Andean watershed 188

Conclusions 192

10 Water Rights, Mining and Indigenous Groups in Chile's Atacama Jessica Budds 197

Introduction 197

Chile's 1981 Water Code 199

Water, mining and indigenous groups in the Atacama 203

Conclusions 208

11 Indian Water Rights in Conflict with State Water Rights: The Case of the Pyramid Lake Partite Tribe in Nevada, US Charles F. Wilkinson 213

Introduction: Indian reserved water rights 213

A fishery in 'exclusive possession' of the Indians 215

Water for non-Indian neighbours 217

Pyramid Lake fishery imperilled 218

The legal struggle 220

Conclusions 221

12 Acequias of the South-Western US in Tension with State Water Laws Gregory A. Hicks 223

Introduction 223

Foundations of the South-west: Acequias 223

Western US expansion and Mexican water institutions 224

Loss of watershed autonomy; loss of acequia landscape 228

Restoration of the acequia commons: Landowner commitment and state action 229

Conclusions 232

13 Community-Controlled Codification of Local Resource Tenure: An Effective Tool for Defending Local Rights? André Hoekema 235

Introduction 235

Territorial rights negotiations and codification of local tenure 237

Ethnic reconstruction and inter-legality 241

The third way in matters of land tenure reform 248

Conclusions 252

Part IV Social Mobilization and Grassroots Strategies for Water Rights

14 Using International Law to Assert Indigenous Water Rights David Getches 259

Introduction 259

International law 260

Potential indigenous water rights claims under international law 263

Conclusions 276

15 Networking Strategies and Struggles for Water Control: From Water Wars to Mobilizations for Day-to-Day Water Rights Defence Rutgerd Boelens Rocío Bustamante Tom Perreault 281

Introduction 281

Social movements and natural resource management in the Andes: The roles of livelihood and spatial scale 283

Water wars and multi-scalar strategies in Bolivia 286

Social mobilization and multi-scalar networks for water rights justice: An Ecuadorian case 293

Multi-scalar networks and strategies for water rights defence: Social movements, transnational networks and the politics of scale 298

Conclusions 300

16 Federating and Defending: Water, Territory and Extraction in the Andes Anthony Bebbington Denise Humphreys Bebbington Jeffrey Bury 307

Introduction 307

Extraction, water and territory 308

Federation and contestation 314

Mining, water and rural organization in Piura, Peru 318

Conclusions 322

17 Conclusions: Water Rights, Power and Identity Armando Guevara-Gil Rutgerd Boelens David Getches 329

List of Contributors 343

The Networks Water Law and Indigenous Rights (WALIR), Concertación and Justicia Hídrica 351

Index 353

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