WRM 31306 Political Ecology of Water|Period 4

Over the past decades a growing body of experience and knowledge has developed on the institutional, organizational and political aspects of water management, such as development of pluralistic water rights frameworks, cultural politics of water-based identities, and grassroots struggles for water justice. Empowerment of economically and socially deprived groups in society to attain environmental justice is a central theme in political ecology.

This course explores political ecology approaches to analyse water governance and intervention. Political ecology is a body of combined theoretical approaches that have in common that they put politics and power relations at the heart of the analysis. The course comprises three highly related themes:

(1)  introduction to the political ecology debates and approaches and their application to water questions, this includes theories of power, hydrosocial territories and socionatures.

(2)  the critical analysis of water governance interventions and reforms of the water sector; and

(3)  the exploration of alternative strategies for knowing, distributing and governing water as informed by different political ecology approaches.

This course covers these topics by presenting concepts and methodologies derived from the political ecology approaches that consider equity and democracy as key concerns in studying and transforming 'government water agencies', market-environmentalist water policies, local water management organisations, and water-based mobilizations and grassroots movements. The focus of this course is not only on providing analytical tools allowing students to unpack the mechanics of power, but also on empowering both students and stakeholder organisations to jointly engage in a process to design countervailing strategies that result in a more just distribution of both access and governance of water resources.

The course is intended for students following the Master International Land and Water Management (MIL) study programme with an interest in the political dimensions of water governance. It is also open to students from other study programs and other universities, interested in this topic. It includes a one-day excursion as well as individual essay writing on a specific theme applying a political ecological conceptual framework.