A Water Perspective on Land Competition

  • Antje BrunsEmail author
  • Tobias Krueger
  • Bruce Lankford
  • Fanny Frick
  • Catherine Grasham
  • Christina Spitzbart-Glasl
Part of the Human-Environment Interactions book series (HUEN, volume 6)


This chapter reflects on land competition from a water perspective. Conceptual thoughts are enriched with evidence drawn from case studies as well as other published studies about both land and water. At the same time, it lays down an analytical framework for these case studies. Starting with a discussion of the inherent relationship between land and water, we explore recent disconnects in land and water studies that make it difficult to collate empirical evidence and comprehensive understanding of how competition between water and land are inherently linked. For us the term competition refers to gaining access to or control over—either land or water—and thus simultaneously captures social and material dimensions. To address these linkages, we employ the concept of waterscapes. One way of seeing waterscapes is through the lens of the competition that occurs at specific places, in various positions and on/across various scales, thereby capturing a combined view of land and water. The notion of waterscapes is mainly used by scholars from the fields of political ecology and critical geography thinking to explore how power is wielded, and in determining when and where who or what gets how much water/land. We briefly review the different notions of competition in disconnected literature concerning land and water in order to instil a further analytical dimension: whilst the term “competition” is increasingly used in land change science to refer to the global rush for land, water scholars refer rather to the various means of water governance.


Critical geography Waterscape Governance Land–water coupling Resources Water as a hybrid 



We would like to thank Emily Raab and Viviana Wiegleb for their support. This research is partly funded by BMBF Global Change Research under the reference number 01LN1316A.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antje Bruns
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tobias Krueger
    • 2
  • Bruce Lankford
    • 3
  • Fanny Frick
    • 1
    • 2
  • Catherine Grasham
    • 3
  • Christina Spitzbart-Glasl
    • 4
  1. 1.Governance and Sustainability LabTrier UniversityTrierGermany
  2. 2.Department of Geography and IRI THESysHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.School of International DevelopmentUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  4. 4.Institute of Social EcologyAlpen-Adria UniversityViennaAustria

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