Liquid Relations: Contested Water Rights and Legal Complexity

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Dik Roth, Rutgerd Boelens, Margreet Zwarteveen
Rutgers University Press, 2005 - 313 pages
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Water management plays an increasingly critical role in national and international policy agendas. Growing scarcity, overuse, and pollution, combined with burgeoning demand, have made socio-political and economic conflicts almost unavoidable. Proposals to address water shortages are usually based on two key assumptions: (1) water is a commodity that can be bought and sold and (2) “states,” or other centralized entities, should control access to water.

Liquid Relations criticizes these assumptions from a socio-legal perspective. Eleven case studies examine laws, distribution, and irrigation in regions around the world, including the United States, Nepal, Indonesia, Chile, Ecuador, India, and South Africa. In each case, problems are shown to be both ecological and human-made. The essays also consider the ways that gender, ethnicity, and class differences influence water rights and control.

In the concluding chapter, the editors draw on the essays' findings to offer an alternative approach to water rights and water governance issues. By showing how issues like water scarcity and competition are embedded in specific resource use and management histories, this volume highlights the need for analyses and solutions that are context-specific rather than universal.

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Legal Complexity in the Analysis of Water Rights
Prescribing Gender Equity? The Case of
Defending Indigenous Water Rights with the Laws
Balinese Irrigation
Collective Water Control and Privatization Policies in
Rise and Fall
Recognition and Denial of Diversity
Social Differentiation
Redressing Racial Inequities through Water Law in South
Routes to Water Rights
Analyzing Water Rights Multiple Uses and Intersectoral
Beyond Analysis
Notes on the Contributors

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About the author (2005)

Dik Roth is a researcher and lecturer on legal anthropology, natural resources management, and development in the department of social sciences, law, and governance group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Rutgerd Boelens and Margreet Zwarteveen are researchers and lecturers on water rights, water management and development policies in the department of environmental sciences, also at Wageningen University.

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