Water as more than commons or commodity: Understanding water management practices in Yanque, Peru

Malene K. Brandshaug
Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden; malene.brandshaug@gu.se

ABSTRACT: Global warming, shrinking glaciers and water scarcity pose challenges to the governance of fresh water in Peru. On the one hand, Peruʼs water management regime and its legal framework allow for increased private involvement in water management, commercialisation and, ultimately, commodification of water. On the other hand, the state and its 2009 Water Resource Law emphasise that water is public property and a common good for its citizens. This article explores how this seeming paradox in Peruʼs water politics unfolds in the district of Yanque in the southern Peruvian Andes. Further, it seeks to challenge a commons/commodity binary found in water management debates and to move beyond the underlying hegemonic view of water as a resource. Through analysing state-initiated practices and practices of a more-than-human commoning – that is, practices not grounded in a human/nature divide, where water and other non-humans participate as sentient persons – the article argues that in Yanque many versions of water emerge through the heterogeneous practices that are entangled in water management.

KEYWORDS: Water, water management, commodification, more-than-human commoning, uncommons, Andes, Peru