1st Edition

The Biopolitics of Water Governance, Scarcity and Populations

By Sofie Hellberg Copyright 2018
    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    Biopolitics refers to a form of politics concerned with administering and regulating the conditions of life at an aggregated level of populations. This book provides a biopolitical perspective on water governance and its effects. It draws on the work of Foucault to explore how notions of scarcity are used in strategies of governance and how such governance differentiates between different populations. Furthermore, the author investigates what such biopolitical regulation means for people’s lifestyles and the way they understand themselves and their moral responsibilities as humans, individuals and citizens. 

    The book begins by investigating the global water agenda, with a particular emphasis on its focus on water for basic needs, and provides different examples of hydromentalities around the world. It also presents rich empirical details of one local case in South Africa. By carefully exploring the water 'stories' of water users, the book provides new perspectives on the relationship between water and power. Additionally, it offers an innovative methodological framework through which we can study the workings of governance more generally, and water governance specifically. It thereby contributes to the scholarship on water governance in relation to how water governance and technologies are part of producing subjectivities, notions of life and lifestyles and, more specifically, how the global water agenda can work so as to produce, or further entrench, distinctions between different lives and lifestyles. Ultimately, such differences between individuals and populations that are produced as an effect of water governance are assessed in relation to social sustainability.

    1. The power and politics of Water 

    2. (Green) Governmentality and biopolitics 

    3. Global water governance: Scarcity, populations and distinctions 

    4. Hydromentalities 

    5. Understanding biopolitical effects locally: Life(styles), subjectivities and moral obligations 

    6. The biopolitics of water


    Sofie Hellberg is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.