Local Water Management in the Andes: Interplay of Domination, Power and Collective Participation

  • Rutgerd Boelens


Water management, rights, and distribution practices manifest themselves ­simultaneously in water infrastructure and technology, normative arrangements, and organizational frameworks for operating and maintaining water control systems, each embedded in diverse political-economic and cultural-symbolic contexts. This situation implies that technology, organizations, culture, political economy, and ecology fundamentally influence and structure possibilities of water captured in contexts of cultural diversity and environmental change. Water rights analysis requires an interdisciplinary focus – one that allows for analyzing the politically contested nature of water resources and water rights as well as the interacting domains that constitute water control systems. I use the concept of ‘domains’ of water rights and control not in the sense of ‘arenas’ or social fields of interaction with territorial and political boundaries, but as (distinct but interlinked) thematic fields producing knowledge on water control. Irrigation water control studies in the Andean region, like investigations and narratives from other parts in the world, have shown the need for conceptualizations that dynamically interrelate the organizational, technical, and normative as interdependent ‘subsystems’ of water control that interact with cultural and political-economic forces and structures of their societal context.


Collective Action Water User Water Control Water Culture Irrigation Infrastructure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References Cited

  1. Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Barth, Fredrik. 2000. ‘Boundaries and Connections’. In Signifying Identities. Anthropological Perspectives on Boundaries and Contested Values, ed. P. Cohen, Anthony. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Baud, Michiel. 2010. Identity politics and indigenous movements in andean history. In Out of the mainstream: Water rights, politics and identity, ed. R. Boelens, D. Getches, and A. Guevara, 99–118. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  4. Beccar, Lily, Rutgerd Boelens, and Paul Hoogendam. 2002. Water rights and collective action in community irrigation. In Water rights and empowerment, ed. R. Boelens and P. Hoogendam, 1–21. Assen: Van Gorcum.Google Scholar
  5. Boelens, R. 2009. The politics of disciplining water rights. Development and Change 40(2): 307–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boelens, Rutgerd, and Margreet Zwarteveen. 2005. Prices and politics in andean water reforms. Development and Change 36(4): 735–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boelens, Rutgerd, and Hoogendam Paul (eds.). 2002. Water rights and empowerment. Assen: Van Gorcum.Google Scholar
  8. Boelens, Rutgerd, Chiba Moe, and Nakashima Douglas (eds.). 2006. Water and indigenous peoples. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  9. Cohen, Abner. 1986. Two dimensional man: An essay on the anthropology of power and symbolism in complex society. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Coward Jr., E. Walter. 1983. Property in action: Alternatives for irrigation investment. Document for the workshop on Water Management and Policy, University of Khon Kaen, Khon Kaen.Google Scholar
  11. Fanon, Frantz. 1967[1952]. Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove.Google Scholar
  12. Gelles, Paul. 2002. Cultural politics and local resistance in highland irrigation development. In Water rights and empowerment, ed. R. Boelens and P. Hoogendam, 22–35. Assen: Van Gorcum.Google Scholar
  13. Gelles, Paul. 2010. Cultural identity and indigenous water rights in the andean highlands. In Out of the mainstream. Water rights, politics and identity, ed. R. Boelens, D. Getches, and A. Guevara, 119–144. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  14. Hobsbawm, Eric and Terence Ranger (eds.). 1983. The invention of tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Mayer, Enrique. 2002. The articulated peasant: Household economies in the Andes. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  16. Said, Edward. 1993. Culture and imperialism. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  17. Starn, Orin. 1994. Rethinking the politics of anthropology. The case of the Andes. Current Anthropology 35(1): 13–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Sciences Group, Wageningen University and Departments Social Sciences and LawCatholic University PeruWageningenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations