Ways of knowing the wastewaterscape

Published on
January 21, 2016

Karpouzoglou, T. & Zimmer, A. (2016). Ways of knowing the wastewaterscape: Urban political ecology and the politics of wastewater in Delhi, India. Habitat International: 1-11.

The notion of waterscape has been proposed by urban political ecology (UPE) scholars as a conceptual lens for understanding urban hydro-social flows. So far, however, there has been little attention by UPE scholars to the importance of wastewater in urban waterscapes. This study demonstrates how wastewater is embedded in an arena of social relations of power, defined in this article as the wastewaterscape. Drawing on research conducted in Delhi, the aim of the study is to examine re-occurring problems of wastewater disposal and  mismanagement through the lens of knowledge; and the different ways of knowing about wastewater which exist amongst inhabitants of an informal settlement, scientific experts and municipal workers in Delhi. On the basis of our analysis, we argue that the systemic exposure of poorer urban citizens to untreated wastewater cannot be attributed to the shortcomings of service delivery alone, but is more fundamentally associated with how legitimacy is awarded to competing systems of knowledge about wastewater in the urban sphere.

KEYWORDS: Wastewaterscape, Knowledge, Urban political ecology, Delhi, India