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Destabilizing Private Water Rights In Chile

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Jessica Budds (Norwich, UK)


Keyword(s): Sub-theme 16: Public and private sector management,
AbstractChile is well known for its unique 'neoliberal' model of tradable water rights instituted under the 1981 Water Code. Following over ten years of debate over the effectiveness of the Water Code's most extreme free market features, a set of only minor amendments were effected in 2005 amid strong resistance from the model's supporters. However, since 2011, a series of changed circumstances, including widespread social protests and regional water crises, has culminated in widespread calls to radically reform, or even cancel, the Water Code, in a way that would have been inconceivable a decade ago. This paper mobilizes the framework of the hydrosocial cycle (Linton & Budds 2014) to analyse these rapidly and radically changing relations between society and water in Chile. It argues for a perspective that moves away from the impacts of neoliberalism on water and towards the constitution of 'neoliberal water' through the Water Code (Budds 2013). Drawing on qualitative field research from Chile, the analysis examines the ways in which such 'neoliberal water' has not only produced particular hydrosocial relations throughout Chile that have helped to hold both the neoliberal model and the Water Code itself in place, but, equally, how these same relations can be quickly and unexpectedly destabilized amid changing social and ecological circumstances. Budds, J. (2013) Water, power and the production of neoliberalism in Chile, 1973-2005. Environment and Planning D Society and Space 31, 301-318 Linton, J. and Budds, J. (2014) The hydrosocial cycle: defining and mobilizing a relational-dialectical approach to water. Geoforum 57, 170-180
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