Situated at the margins of the urban–rural perimeter of the city of Medellín in Colombia, El Faro is a neighborhood in constant construction where life flourishes despite limited access to a formal water supply. By means of everyday practices, El Faro’s residents have claimed their right to water and mobilized to defend their self-managed community water supply. This article attempts to understand how these everyday water practices defy mainstream ideas on universal coverage, standardized mechanisms for access to water, and water rights. Based on an interdisciplinary theoretical framework combining political ecology, critical studies of law, and decolonial theory of everyday practice, this study applies an ethnographic approach in an effort to overcome exclusionary binaries in social theory. First, it recognizes the interdependent and bidirectional relationship between society and nature, allowing for the emergence of new ways of understanding water. Second, it challenges monolithic views of power, revealing the coexistence of multiple normative systems that interact with the state and its laws and, thus, the need for new ways of understanding the law. Third, it gives space for the expression of ch’ixi ways of being of those who live on borderlands. For these reasons, this article represents a contribution to the study of how everyday water practices affect equitable access to water and just water governing structures.
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