Gender and emergent water governance: comparative overview of neoliberalized natures and gender dimensions of privatization, devolution and marketization

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Abstract:

This article provides a critical reading of some of the gendered dimensions of emergent water governance regimes, specifically those related to the privatization, marketization and devolution of water resources management. After first providing an overview of recent nature-society contributions related to neoliberalization processes, the article comparatively evaluates insights with respect to the gender dimensions of recent shifts in water governance. I make several arguments at the intersection of relevant literatures. First, there is a need for gender theorists interested in water resources and nature-society debates to engage more with issues, theories and processes associated with neoliberalization. Second, there is a need for more attention to gender, feminist theory and approaches to inequality and socio-spatial difference in discussions of neoliberalized natures. Third, reading these literatures together reveals that there is a need to be self-reflexive and critical of elements of the gender and water literature that implicitly endorse foundational elements of the neoliberal turn in resource governance. Finally, there are particularities with respect to gender theory and politics, and water materialities that hold importance for understanding recent water governance shifts in the broader context of political and economic changes associated with neoliberalization.

Keywords: devolution; gender; neoliberalization; privatization; water governance

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09663690903003918

Affiliations: University of Wisconsin, Department of Geography and Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Madison WI, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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