Hydrosocial territories: a political ecology perspective

Rutgerd Boelens, Jaime Hoogesteger, Erik Swyngedouw, Jeroen Vos, Philippus Wester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


We define and explore hydrosocial territories as spatial configurations of people, institutions, water flows, hydraulic technology and the biophysical environment that revolve around the control of water. Territorial politics finds expression in encounters of diverse actors with divergent spatial and political-geographical interests. Their territory-building projections and strategies compete, superimpose and align to strengthen specific water-control claims. Thereby, actors continuously recompose the territory’s hydraulic grid, cultural reference frames, and political-economic relationships. Using a political ecology focus, we argue that territorial struggles go beyond battles over natural resources as they involve struggles over meaning, norms, knowledge, identity, authority and discourses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalWater International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • governmentality
  • hydrosocial territories
  • political ecology
  • scalar politics
  • water governance

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