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date: 26 September 2022

Water Security and Scarcitylocked

Water Security and Scarcitylocked

  • Amber Wutich, Amber WutichArizona State University
  • Melissa Beresford, Melissa BeresfordSan José State University
  • Teresa Montoya, Teresa MontoyaUniversity of Chicago
  • Lucero RadonicLucero RadonicMichigan State University
  •  and Cassandra WorkmanCassandra WorkmanUniversity of North Carolina at Greensboro

Summary

Anthropological thinking on water security and scarcity can be traced through four scholarly approaches: political ecology of water scarcity, water insecurity, water economics, and human-water relationality. Political ecologists argue that water scarcity a sociopolitical process and not necessarily related to physical water availability. The political ecological approach is concerned with power, global-local dynamics, and how water scarcity is unevenly distributed within and across communities. Water insecurity research is concerned with how injustice and inequity shape household and individual variability in water insecurity. Inspired by biocultural research, water insecurity scholars have used systematic methods to advance theories of how water insecurity impacts mental health, food insecurity, dehydration, and other human biological outcomes. Economic anthropologists explore how economic dynamics—including formal and capitalist economies, noncapitalist and hybridized economies, reciprocity, social reproduction, and theft—shape water scarcity and insecurity. Research priorities in economic anthropology include water valuation, meanings of water, and water as an economic good. Building from Indigenous scholars’ insights, relational approaches argue that humans have reciprocal obligations to respect and care for water as a living being. Water justice, these scholars argue, requires restoring human-water relations and upholding Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. All four of these research areas—scarcity, insecurity, economics, and relationality—are producing cutting-edge research, with significant implications for research agendas in the anthropology of water security and scarcity.

Subjects

  • Applied Anthropology
  • Biological Anthropology
  • International and Indigenous Anthropology

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