Liquid Relations: Contested Water Rights and Legal Complexity

By Dik Roth; Rutgerd Boelens et al. | Go to book overview

12
Water Rights and Legal Pluralism
Beyond Analysis and Recognition

MARGREET ZWARTEVEEN
DIK ROTH
RUTGERD BOELENS

One important reason to embark upon the effort to compile this book was to bridge the f elt gap between the analysis of water rights and the assumptions and practices of intervention. On the one hand, academic anthropologists criticize water professionals for overly simplifying the water world and for not recognizing its socioeconomic, cultural, and legal diversity. On the other, more intervention-oriented water professionals find detailed analyses of the existence of plural legal situations of little direct use for designing water management systems and policies. All chapters in this book combine, to a greater or lesser extent, academic curiosity with a commitment to change, thus providing testimony that legal pluralism is no longer a mere hobbyhorse of legal anthropologists. Even if not all the contributing authors explicitly engage with questions of change, all of them somehow relate to wider policy debates. Some chapters are clearly written from a wider concern with a law-related social or developmental problem, and engage in a critical analysis of the existence of plural legal conditions, without searching for ready-made solutions. Thus, the analyses by Bhushan Udas and Zwarteveen (chapter 2), Getches (chapter 3), and Roth (chapter 4) contribute to deepening the understanding of the role of law and lawmaking in different settings. In contrast, van Koppen and Jha (chapter 9), Bruns (chapter 10), and Meinzen-Dick and Pradhan (chapter 11) more directly address those who are in a position to implement or devise policies and laws. Van Koppen and Jha describe legally plural conditions in South Africa in the context of governmental efforts to create and implement socially more equitable water distribution policies and laws. Bruns's chapter can be read as an attempt by a concerned social scientist to come to terms with the gaps and tensions between neoinstitutionalist and sociolegal approaches to water problems by using the concept of transaction costs. In a similar manner, Meinzen-Dick and Pradhan

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