Conceptual Considerations for the Analysis of Multi-Scalar Water Conflicts
In the past water problems were looked at from narrow infrastructural and political perspectives which in many instances has led to failure up until today.
The concept of "hydro-hegemony" (Zeitoun 2006) now employs a power theoretical perspective on geo-strategical positions, which diversifies the spectrum of hydro-hegemonic courses of action ("resource capture", "containment", "integration"). This approach is illuminating, but it remains state-centred in a geopolitical sense. The concept can therefore, on the one hand, be combined fruitfully with the concept of hydro-mentalities (Para-nage/Young 2020). The latter focuses on the different, sometimes contrasting, socio-culturally rooted and affectively charged imaginations and opinions about the essence of water and how it should be treated appropriately, distributed fairly and used justly. On the other hand, the concept should be supplemented by opportunities (for instance through a growing number of environmental courts around the world (Pring/Pring 2010)) to subject claims for power to the law, to articulate divergent interests as water rights and to balance them out by (quasi-)judicial decision-making. We claim that a multidisciplinary approach (political science, anthropology, law) is necessary to analyse multi-scalar water conflicts in an encompassing way and to thereby indicate perspectives for solutions. In presenting the concept of "hegemonic hydro-mentalities" we will make use of examples of water conflicts in India and South Africa.