Water Sustainability: Anthropological Approaches and Prospects
Posted: 18 Oct 2010
Date Written: October 2010
Water has become an urgent theme in anthropology as the worldwide need to provide adequate supplies of clean water to all people becomes more challenging. Anthropologists contribute by seeing water not only as a resource, but also as a substance that connects many realms of social life. They trace the different forms of valuing water, examine the often unequal distribution of water, explore the rules and institutions that govern water use and shape water politics, and study the multiple, often conflicting knowledge systems through which actors understand water. They offer ethnographic insights into key water sites—watersheds, water regimes, and waterscapes—found in all settings, though with widely varying characteristics. Anthropologists provide a critical examination of a concept called integrated water resource management (IWRM), which has become hegemonic in the global discourse of sustainable development.
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