Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Thomas Perreault


Conflict, Political Ecology, Vulnerability, Water Governance

Subject Categories



Peru is facing serious social and environmental water challenges. Experts and policy makers are trying to better understand the social and economic impacts of an increasing rate of glacial melt and a consequential prospect of water scarcity. Currently there is a great deal of strain put on the water resources originating from Andean glacial melt because these sustain most economic and social growth taking place at the coastal desert. At the same time, the country's neoliberal development policies are changing the management of resources such as water. The gradual expansion of extractive industries along with the growing influence of non-state actors is introducing new discursive representations of the environment and facilitating important changes in the spatial, administrative, and political relations of governing nature. Among the most prominent changes are the recent restructuring efforts to the Peruvian institutional and legal structure for water governance. In this context, the forms of access, control, and exploitation of water in the Andes have become more contested than ever. This thesis explores the struggle for water at Parón, one of such Andean communities. This decade-long struggle for water perfectly demonstrates how local groups, government agencies, and a private corporation negotiate their access to water. This thesis explores how organizational structures, institutional arrangements, and decision-making processes shape and are shaped by access, use, management, and regulation of water in a conflictive environment. Particularly, it analyzes how politics informs water management, and consequentially affects access to the resource. But also, given the uniqueness of this conflict, this thesis further incorporates a risk and vulnerability factor to its analysis. While this conflict comprises the socioeconomic, political, historical, cultural, and environmental components of most environmental struggles in Peru, it also presents very unique characteristics. The contested water source is managed not only for downstream water use, but also for glacial risk mitigation. As such, this thesis examines how water governance and vulnerability are co-produced in a conflictive environment. For this, I explore specific moments or instances - such as water flows and management, technology, institutions, discourses, and negotiations - that I recognize as embodying this relationship. In this analysis, I pay special attention to the impact of water technologies. I argue that a new, more convoluted, form of water politics - introduced to the watershed with hydropower technology - have created a new set of social relations that reinforce social vulnerability upon local water users, producing a transformation in vulnerability.


Open Access

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