Irrigation meets Feminist Political Ecology: Exploring Nature-Society Relations in the context of climate change and the global environmental crisis - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2023

Irrigation meets Feminist Political Ecology: Exploring Nature-Society Relations in the context of climate change and the global environmental crisis

Abstract

Irrigation systems are crucial for local food security and global food chains. Irrigation systems are socio-technical systems that require sustained collective action, and that are particularly sensitive to social changes such as rural out-migration and environmental changes, e.g. climatic variability. Therefore, irrigation offers an excellent example of Nature-Society Relations at the interplay of contemporary global human and environmental changes. To explore irrigation challenges and dynamics in this context, we investigate how Feminist Political Ecology (FPE) could offer a more just perspective on nature-society relations. The irrigation sector is dominated by apolitical, masculine and technical discourses. FPE, in contrast, is a social justice-oriented approach which highlights emotions, ambivalences and struggles over access to and control over resources. FPE attempts to make power relations and everyday struggles visible in (water) resource governance, with a particular focus on the household and community level. Drawing from diverse local knowledges is at the core of an FPE analysis to demonstrate differentiated access, use and control over natural resources such as water. In South Asia, for example, axes of social and economic differences in terms of age, ethnicity and caste shape water access and irrigation management but often remain overlooked in practice. Irrigation schemes often face issues of non-consultation with the community, faulty designs, and power performances by engineers and politicians, while gender and social inclusion considerations are not included in design, construction, operation or management. Sectorial silos have made calls louder for more transdisciplinary collaboration and a nexus approach for which FPE could offer valuable insights. We undertake a systematic literature review on irrigation which engages with a FPE angle. In particular, we ask: What can a FPE perspective offer to irrigation research and practice? How is FPE defined in research on irrigation? At which scale and scope has FPE been applied to irrigation research and practice? What research methodologies have been used? What are FPE implications and challenges in irrigation practice? How can FPE be articulated with other bodies of knowledge sensitive to social justice, e.g. hydrosocial cyles and territories? We further reflect on our own positionality, experiences and challenges as feminist political ecologists in the irrigation and water sector working in Nepal and India. By highlighting encounters and perspectives of FPE in irrigation research and practice, we hope to contribute to our understanding towards more just nature-society relations in the context of climate change and the global environmental crisis.
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Dates and versions

hal-04201577 , version 1 (10-09-2023)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : hal-04201577 , version 1

Cite

Gitta Shrestha, Stephanie Leder, Floriane Clement. Irrigation meets Feminist Political Ecology: Exploring Nature-Society Relations in the context of climate change and the global environmental crisis. Nature-Society Relations and the Global Environmental Crisis – Thinking on Climate Change and Sustainability from the Fields of Intersectional Theory and Transdisciplinary Gender Studies, Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies (ZtG) at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, May 2023, Berlin, Germany. 29p. ⟨hal-04201577⟩
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