Capture (or watering the state): The making of law, state, and nature

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This paper follows the Peruvian law of water resources of 2009, Ley de Recursos Hídricos 29338, from ideological crafting in the capital of Lima, to practical implementation in institutional practices and encounters with water users, infrastructure and nature in and around the city of Arequipa.
The law is guided by clear ideas to respond to climatic changes, potential scarcities and changes in economic activity, as well as desires of a generalised ‘water culture’ in the entire Peruvian population - that is, efficiency in water use, modernisation in water management and a positively informed and responsible population. However, the concrete implementation of these ideas reveals encounters where the concepts are being questioned and transformed – in words or in practice – by the population they seek to impact, as well as the officials meant to implement them. In the paper, some of these encounters are unpacked ethnographically, revealing that in the process of implementation of the law 29338, water as matter and as concern, as well as the Peruvian state as authority, are being configured, reconfigured and negotiated, not in a uniform and predictable way, but in multiple sites, temporalities and modes. This paper addresses the law as a liquid technology, an arrangement of ideas, interests, desires, intentions, bureaucratic processes and practices that materialize in concrete encounters and sites of implementation. The paper builds on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in 2011 – 2012, and follow-up interviews carried out in 2017.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventAmerican Anthropological Association 113th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C. - Washington D.C., United States
Duration: 28 Nov 20173 Dec 2017


ConferenceAmerican Anthropological Association 113th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.
CountryUnited States
CityWashington D.C.

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