SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

De-colonizing groundwater governance? Learning from local initiatives to care for, share, or recharge aquifers.

Margreet Zwarteveen
Margreet Zwarteveen

Date: 27 February 2020Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 27 February 2020Time: 8:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B103

Type of Event: Seminar


Moving away from the alarmist and managerial tone of most groundwater scholarship, I use this presentation for a plea to anchor the search for realizing transformations to groundwater sustainability in the comparative documentation of promising grass-roots initiatives around groundwater in places where pressures on the resource are particularly acute. Focusing on practices - of knowing, accessing and sharing - the proposed approach combines qualitative ethnographic methods with hydrogeological and engineering insights to enunciate and normatively assess the knowledges, technologies and institutions that characterize these grass-roots initiatives. This effort is inspired by theorizations of water as simultaneously social and natural, builds on recent critical scholarship on institutions, and has a particular sensitivity to how the distribution and use of groundwater is mediated by technologies.


Margreet Zwarteveen is Professor of Water Governance at IHE Delft and the University of Amsterdam. Trained as both an irrigation engineer and a social scientist, Margreet is interested in water allocation policies and practices, focusing on questions of equity and justice. In her current research, she looks at re-allocations of water from low to higher-value crops and from rural areas to cities and industries: how do these re-allocations happen, with what effects, and how are they legitimized in policies and knowledge?

The event is free to attend but registration required. Click here to register. 

Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute and Centre of Law, Environment and Development

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