Caitlin Schroering '09 on Solidarity and the Right to Water
Environmental Studies major Caitlin Schroering ‘09, a PhD student at University of Pittsburgh, recently published “Constructing Another World: Solidarity and the Right to Water.”
In the abstract, she notes:
Globally, one in eight people lacks access to potable water; more people die from unsafe drinking water than from all forms of violence, including war. A substantial body of research documents that the privatization of water – led by global financial institutions working in collusion with governments and corporations – does not lead to more people gaining access to safe water. In fact, the opposite is true: privatization leads to both higher cost and lower quality water.
For the past century, the dominant focus of transnational organizing has been “from the West to the rest,” and the frequent attention to movements in the global North has led to the neglect of transnational linkages between movements.
Drawing on fieldwork conducted on three right to water movements that span three continents (North America, South America, and Africa), this paper examines efforts to reclaim the water commons, and how struggles have been driven by grassroots movements demanding that democracy, transparency, and the human right to water are prioritized over corporate profit.
As feminist scholars have pointed out, the “standpoint” offered by marginalized actors offers important insights into the operation of systems of power and the strategies of survival and resistance that less powerful actors adopt in order to survive and thrive. This paper explores how transnational movements around water and other basic rights engage with and learn from each other.