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Mobilizing Water Actors and Bodies of Knowledge. The Multi-Scalar Movement against the Río Grande Dam in Málaga, Spain

1
Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA), University of Amsterdam, 1018 WB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2
Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
3
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Universidad Central del Ecuador, Ciudadela Universitaria, Quito 170129, Ecuador
4
Department of Social Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Av. Universitaria 1801, San Miguel, Lima 15088, Peru
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(3), 410; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030410
Received: 4 July 2018 / Revised: 22 October 2018 / Accepted: 3 January 2019 / Published: 26 February 2019
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Abstract

Just as in other parts of Spain, the Guadalhorce Valley, Málaga, has a long history of policies based on ‘hydraulic utopianism’ (regenerationist and Franco-ist), bent on ‘reorganizing’ political, geographic, and human nature. Residents of the neighboring sub-basin, the Río Grande valley, have seen how these policies, designed to transfer rural water to modern urban centers, have turned the Guadalhorce hydrosocial territory into a ‘hydraulic dystopia’. In this article, we examine how Río Grande valley residents mobilized to maintain control over the development and use of their resources, livelihoods, and knowledge systems, when modernist-urbanist policies planned to take their water from a major dam on the Río Grande. Interviewing actors at different scales we examined how this anti-dam movement organized massively in a creative, multi-actor, and multi-scale network. Our results also show that this unified, successful fight against the ‘common enemy’, the mega-hydraulic construction, has become more complex, as threats crop up not only from the ‘city over there’ but also from ‘internal’ hydro-territorial transformations. These sprout from policies to modernize traditional irrigation systems, supposedly to ‘save water’, but critical voices assume that it is all about passing on the ‘surplus’ to Málaga city, or using that water to expand agribusiness. We conclude that the challenge lies in critically integrating multiple forms of knowledge, stakeholders, and scales to both defend collective water management and creatively construct anti-hegemonic alternatives. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrosocial territory; knowledge encounters; hydraulic utopia; modernity; commensuration; anti-dam movement; Málaga; Spain hydrosocial territory; knowledge encounters; hydraulic utopia; modernity; commensuration; anti-dam movement; Málaga; Spain
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Duarte Abadía, B.; Boelens, R.; du Pré, L. Mobilizing Water Actors and Bodies of Knowledge. The Multi-Scalar Movement against the Río Grande Dam in Málaga, Spain. Water 2019, 11, 410.

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