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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Pays-Bas → 2008 → The rules of the game and the game of the rules : normalization and resistance in Andean water control

Wageningen Universiteit Pays Bas (2008)

The rules of the game and the game of the rules : normalization and resistance in Andean water control

Boelens, R.A.

Titre : The rules of the game and the game of the rules : normalization and resistance in Andean water control

Auteur : Boelens, R.A.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : PhD thesis 2008

This thesis has a threefold setup. It first examines the multi-layered contents, constitution, embedding and everyday working rationality of irrigation water rights systems in Andean highland communities. Next, it investigates how (intertwined) State, market and expert networks vigorously aim to reshape Andean water societies according to their own image and interests, seizing their access rights and/or encaging the users, their identities and rights systems in dominant standard frames. The third part analyzes how local user collectives strategize to defend, reclaim and re-embed their water rights, standing up for both their water resources and water communities and cultures. My overall research question orients these fields : ‘How do local water rules and rights give substance to Andean irrigation water control systems (and vice-versa), and in what manner do processes of normalization restructure and subjugate these local water institutions ? How do Andean water user collectives defend themselves against water rights encroachment, resist the disciplining of their water socio-legal repertoires, and create strategic space for community-controlled water rights definition and enforcement ?’ Twelve basic questions guide my research into the deep waters of ‘normalization and resistance’ :
My research took place as a many-years process of academic and action-research with highland water user organizations, peasant communities, indigenous federations, interaction with NGOs, State institutes and research centers, and the coordination of international research programs on water rights in the Andean region. The study focuses on a variety of events in and cases of irrigation systems and watersheds, and their interaction with the national and international water policy, legal and intervention context. Water control in the highlands of Peru and Ecuador is the focal point of my analysis ; the often interlinking water policies, legislation and practices in Bolivia and Chile provide reference cases.
My research is necessarily interdisciplinary, ‘mixing’ the analytical fields of water resource management, rural sociology and gender studies, social philosophy, legal pluralism, political sciences and cultural anthropology. Chapter 1 grounds the research subject by providing the basic theoretical orientation, which I work out, revise, and extend in subsequent chapters. It specifies and links the study’s key conceptual notions : rights and legal complexity ; cultural identity and diversity ; norms and normalization ; power-knowledge-truth triangles and discourses ; human agency and socio-technical actor-networks ; plus a conceptual elaboration on conflicting but interacting ‘modes of power’. The research focuses on both agent- and subject-centered forms of power, whether fostering domination/ conformation or resistance/non-conformation – and the multiple interactions and in-between forms. The next chapters’ concepts, fieldwork cases and events – in combination with secondary source findings – illustrate, question, deepen, and order the pieces of this theoretical-empirical puzzle, enabling new theoretical notions.

Mots clés : irrigation water / irrigation systems / water management / communities / water use / water distribution / water policy / mountains / peru / ecuador / chile / south america / water rights / andes / state


Page publiée le 19 mars 2009, mise à jour le 1er juin 2022