- Political ecology
- Neoliberalization of nature
- Urban geography
- Water governance
Title: Contested Urban Waterscapes: Water, Power and Urban Fragmentation in Medellin, Colombia
Abstract: My research explores how access to water has become a crucial terrain over which market-driven logics are both consolidated and contested. Drawing on case study research conducted in Medellín, Colombia, this study investigates the paradoxical situation of rapid emergence of the city's water company as a multilatina (regional multinational company) on the one hand, and the increasing number of households disconnected from the formal water supply networks particularly in low-income areas, on the other hand. By bringing together work on urban political ecology and neoliberalisation of nature, this research illustrates not only how neoliberal principles constitute uneven urban waterscapes based on particular arrangements of nature, society and infrastructure, but also how the agency and materiality of water challenges these new socio-natural configurations. Going beyond mainstream assumptions that narrowly interpret water disconnection as a poverty trap or as a technical-managerial problem, I argue that a complex interplay between sustainability discourses, notions of citizenship and technological infrastructures deployed by the water company has become utterly instrumental to the production and reproduction of water inequalities. For low-income households in particular, much is at stake as these socio-nature configurations determine not only how their lives will be affected but also how alternatives and solutions can be mobilized and implemented.