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Water is not only a source of life and culture. It is also a source of power, conflicting interests and identity battles. Rights to materially access, culturally organize and politically control water resources are poorly understood by mainstream scientific approaches and hardly addressed by current normative frameworks.
This book examines the multi-scale struggles for cultural justice and socio-economic re-distribution that arise as Latin American communities and user federations seek access to water resources and decision-making power regarding their control and management. It is set in the dynamic context of unequal, globalizing power relations, politics of scale and identity, environmental encroachment and the increasing presence of extractive industries that are creating additional pressures on local livelihoods.
While much of the focus of the book is on the Andean Region, a number of comparative chapters are also included. These address issues such as water rights and defence strategies in neighbouring countries and those of Native American people in the southern USA, as well as state reform and multi-culturalism across Latin and Native America and the use of international standards in struggles for indigenous water rights.
'This book is an extraordinary intellectual and political tour de force. For the first time, the complex power-laden processes that shape the relationships between water rights, politics and identity are explored in ways that are academically stimulating, intellectually enriching and politically significant - an indispensible guide for all those who seek both to better understand how water rights and social, cultural or political power intertwine and to formulate and engage in socially empowering and politically liberating strategies of resistance and transformation.' --Erik Swyngedouw, Professor of Geography, University of Manchester, UK 'Out of the Mainstream is one of the most powerful critiques of the neoliberal globalisation utopia I have ever read. In their careful and penetrating studies, the contributors reveal the rich and varied experiences of communal water systems, the struggles of local communities against neoliberal policies and their collective attempts to construct sustainable livelihoods.' Cristbal Kay, Emeritus Professor International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, the Netherlands 'This book is a path breaking compilation of essays that include and provoke critical thinking about the law and politics of water allocation and power relationships. It reveals the failings of free market approaches linked to the global thirst for water and other resources, and provides needed guidance for reevaluating those approaches with attention to the wisdom and longstanding resource use practices of indigenous and other local communities.' -- S. James Anaya, Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy, University of Arizona; and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People 'The mark of a groundbreaking book is that it sheds light on an enduring problem in an entirely new way. Tackling the critical confrontation between traditional and modern water systems, the authors bring convincing new field data and insights to the contentious debates surrounding the water crisis in the Andes and indigenous communities of North America.' -- Robert E. Rhoades, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Georgia, USA 'Out of the Mainstream is a solid addition to any political collection focusing on the environment.' Willis M. Buhle, The Midwest Book Review 'The EarthScan book breaks through many misconceptions about water rights and management to describe local and community use of water from the bottom-up.' Jeff Thurston, Vector One 'This book rejects a number of shibboleths among water professionals and replaces them with advice that emphasises fairness, community, and bottom-up democracy.' -- Helen Ingram, Water Alternatives 'This excellent collection examines market-generated water conflicts and responses at local, regional, and national levels in a set of case studies involving people and communities in the Andes and the US Southwest' -- B.F.Hope, Choice Magazine, October 2010
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