Riverhood: political ecologies of socionature commoning and translocal struggles for water justice

Rutgerd Boelens*, Arturo Escobar, Karen Bakker, Lena Hommes, Erik Swyngedouw, Barbara Hogenboom, Edward H. Huijbens, Sue Jackson, Jeroen Vos, Leila M. Harris, K.J. Joy, Fabio de Castro, Bibiana Duarte-Abadía, Daniele Tubino de Souza, Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Nuria Hernández-Mora, Joan Martínez-Alier, Denisse Roca-Servat, Tom Perreault, Carles Sanchis-IborDiana Suhardiman, Astrid Ulloa, Arjen Wals, Jaime Hoogesteger, Juan Pablo Hidalgo-Bastidas, Tatiana Roa-Avendaño, Gert Jan Veldwisch, Phil Woodhouse, Karl M. Wantzen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Mega-damming, pollution and depletion endanger rivers worldwide. Meanwhile, modernist imaginaries of ordering ‘unruly waters and humans’ have become cornerstones of hydraulic-bureaucratic and capitalist development. They separate hydro/social worlds, sideline river-commons cultures, and deepen socio-environmental injustices. But myriad new water justice movements (NWJMs) proliferate: rooted, disruptive, transdisciplinary, multi-scalar coalitions that deploy alternative river–society ontologies, bridge South–North divides, and translate river-enlivening practices from local to global and vice-versa. This paper's framework conceptualizes ‘riverhood’ to engage with NWJMs and river commoning initiatives. We suggest four interrelated ontologies, situating river socionatures as arenas of material, social and symbolic co-production: ‘river-as-ecosociety’, ‘river-as-territory’, ‘river-as-subject’, and ‘river-as-movement’.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Peasant Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Nov 2022


  • disruptive co-production
  • Environmental justice
  • hydrosocial territories
  • ontological complexity
  • river commoning
  • translocal movements


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