Animated by concern about how the intensification of agriculture throughout the world continues to go hand in hand with the simultaneous exploitation of water and of labour, much of it done by women, this thesis takes issue with how water management often marginalizes smallholder farmers’, and particularly women farmers’ practices and knowledges. The thesis interweaves feminist political ecology, post-human feminist scholarship and science and technology studies, to formulate critiques of the techno-managerial and neoliberal theorizations that inform water policies and agricultural development. It combines ethnographic data collected in rural Maharashtra, India with insights from rural areas of Morocco, Algeria and Peru.
The thesis highlights that feminist engagement with water questions in agriculture requires situating analyses in actual, place-based, strategies and struggles. It argues that paths to more sustainable and just water futures rely on learning with overflows: centring the mundane work and knowledges of those actors – human as well as more-than-human ones – that appear as marginal to or insignificant in more mainstream conceptualizations. Such grounded feminist analysis has the potential to provide crucial insights in – and appreciation for – how women – and other marginalized actors – manage water, but also to inform transformational action inspired by what emerge as more equitable human-water relations.