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Water, politics and development: Framing a political sociology of water resources management

Peter P. Mollinga
Department of Political and Cultural Change, ZEF (Center for Development Research), Bonn University, Germany; pmollinga@hotmail.com


EDITORIAL PREAMBLE: The first issue of Water Alternatives presents a set of papers that investigates the inherently political nature of water resources management. A Water, Politics and Development initiative was started at ZEF (Center for Development Research, Bonn, Germany) in 2004/2005 in the context of a national-level discussion on the role of social science in global (environmental) change research. In April 2005 a roundtable workshop with this title was held at ZEF, sponsored by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft/German Research Foundation) and supported by the NKGCF (Nationales Komitee für Global Change Forschung/German National Committee on Global Change Research), aiming to design a research programme in the German context. In 2006 it was decided to design a publication project on a broader, European and international basis. The Irrigation and Water Engineering Group at Wageningen University, the Netherlands joined as a co-organiser and co-sponsor. The collection of papers published in this issue of Water Alternatives is one of the products of the publication project. As part of the initiative a session on Water, Politics and Development was organised at the Stockholm World Water Week in August 2007, where most of the papers in this collection were presented and discussed. Through this publication, the Water, Politics and Development initiative links up with other initiatives simultaneously ongoing, for instance the 'Water governance -€“ challenging the consensus' project of the Bradford Centre for International Development at Bradford University, UK. At this point in time, the initiative has formulated its thrust as 'framing a political sociology of water resources management'. This, no doubt, is an ambitious project, methodologically, theoretically as well as practically. Through the compilation of this collection we have started to explore whether and how such an endeavour might make sense. The participants in the initiative think it does, are quite excited about it, and are committed to pursue it further. To succeed the project has to be a collective project, of a much larger community than the present contributors. All readers are invited to comment on sense, purpose and content of this endeavour to profile and strengthen critical and public sociologies of water resources management.


KEYWORDS: Water control, politics, development, political sociology, public sociology, social power, governance