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Accepted Paper:

"What unites us is the umbilical cord of water": hydrosociality, precarity and politics in Peru  
Astrid Stensrud (University of Agder)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the complexity of hydrosocial relations and precarities in the Majes-Colca watershed and the Majes Irrigation Project in Peru, and discusses whether new forms of politics emerge from conflicting water-related practices and notions of ownership.

Paper long abstract:

The Majes Irrigation Project in the Majes-Colca watershed in southern Peru was constructed in the 1970s as a project of regional development. The 100-kilometre long Majes canal enables the flow of water from the Condoroma Dam at 4000 meters of altitude to the arid pampa of Majes, where the desert has been transformed to fertile and productive land for export agriculture. The Majes Project was planned in detail by state engineers who designed urban centres and infrastructure for 40.000 inhabitants. Today's population, which is already three times as big with an estimated number of 120.000 people, is spreading out in the desert, where there is yet no infrastructure and no safe drinking water. The dependency on one main canal makes it an extremely vulnerable place, and after 30 years, the canal is in need of maintenance. The threat of droughts and earthquakes in the highlands is a constant, although not overt, preoccupation. The canal also produces new relations between the lowlands and the headwaters, where poor farmers are suffering the consequences of climate change.

The paper will explore the complexity of hydrosocial relations, senses of precarity and tensions in the Majes-Colca watershed and the Majes Irrigation Project, and discuss conflicting water practices and notions of ownership. Finally, it will discuss whether new forms of politics emerge from diverging water-related practices and anticipations of the future.

Panel P047
Water and social relations: Wittfogel's legacy and hydrosocial futures
  Session 1