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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:54987
Doc. No:TL24941
Call number:‭3258207‬
Main Entry:Farhana Sultana
Title & Author:Suffering for water, suffering from water: Political ecologies of arsenic, water and *development in BangladeshFarhana Sultana
College:University of Minnesota
Date:2007
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2007
Page No:284
Abstract:This dissertation looks at the socio-ecological implications of a drinking water crisis in Bangladesh, within the context of broader development processes, with particular attention to gendered and classed differences in how people cope with, respond to and adapt to changing water conditions, uses, and rights. Arsenic contamination of groundwater and drinking water sources in Bangladesh is presently posing a significant development and water management challenge, yet the social and gender outcomes are inadequately given attention to by scholars and policy makers. First, the thesis shows that while it is often claimed that women bear the brunt of environmental change/degradation, it is predicated upon context and should not be generalized. In the Bangladesh case, while women are marginalized and suffer the most from the drinking water crisis, this has a strong class and locational dimension to it. As such, feminist scholars looking at environmental/water issues need to pay greater attention to class differentiation as well as geographical location (at sub-village scales) to understand how gendered hardship plays out, where gender, class and location (both in terms of distance to safe water sources and relative to contaminated aquifers) intersect to influence access to, knowledge of and rights to safe water. Thus, women and men from different social classes and locations are affected by arsenic contamination of groundwater in different ways, ranging from varied physical hardship, health affects (from arsenic poisoning), and awareness levels to decision making capacities and power in arsenic mitigation, where spatialized and ecologized gendered subjectivities complicate the varied ways that people suffer for and from water. Second, discourses of 'community' and 'participation' are problematically used in water management. It is seen that there is greater water hardship, exposure to poisoning from arsenic, and conflicts over water as a result of not only the contamination of erstwhile safe water sources and ensuing water scarcity and poisoning, but also from the ways 'community' and 'participation' notions are practiced. Through the process of this water crisis, where both conflicts as well as cooperation emerge around notions of 'community' and 'participation', there is increased differential access to safe water within and between places, and gendered/classed exclusions and marginalization as a result of changing water management institutions and interventions. However, there are variations across places, as the nature of the interventions for drinking water are influenced by pre-existing development projects in the area, expectations of people, as well as levels of arsenic contamination and perceived threat. As such, scholars studying 'community' and 'participation' should pay greater attention to the role of nature and geographical location in the ways that such development interventions fail and succeed, and are thereby critiqued. Third, scholars studying water in human geography, particularly within nature-society studies, have predominantly looked at issues of water privatization and urban water issues, with theoretical frameworks largely drawn from neoliberalism and social constructionism. There has been less attention given to rural water issues, especially how development discourses operate in the context of water management. Such a focus shows that water as a resource and as nature has its own materiality and agency as a flow resource, isn't always socially constructed, and challenges attempts to manage it and own it via development processes. Such a dialectical understanding of water avoids the pitfalls of environmental determinism, but highlights the importance of 'bringing nature back' into our debates about nature and society. Water is thus both benign and harmful, and disrupts and reconfigures narratives of progress. Furthermore, the thesis shows that attempts at privatization of water in the wake of arsenic is likely to further marginalize those without access to safe water, and thereby unlike y to reduce the poisoning of millions of people.
Subject:Social sciences; Arsenic; Bangladesh; Development; Gender; Political ecology; Water; Geography; 0366:Geography
Added Entry:A. I. Samatar
Added Entry:University of Minnesota