In the U.S.-Mexico border region, an estimated 134,419 people live in United States colonias that lack access to water and/or sewer services. This article draws from ethnographic field research in one such Mexican-American community, where attempts by residents to move "decision-makers" to connect their community to water have for decades met a shifting resistance. Attention to water-infrastructure arguments at local, state, and federal levels reveals that this resistance ushers from bureaucracy and a deeply entrenched neoliberal logic. Access to basic water and sewer services is subordinated to strict ranking criteria, infrastructural rules and regulations, and funding metrics such as cost-per-connection. In response, residents have raised a counter-discourse, emphasizing their human dignity, needs, and basic rights to water. Thus, this article exposes a central tension in the political ecology of water: the neoliberal thinking that undergirds infrastructural violence in the "hydrosocial waterscape", and the strategies by which residents attempt to mobilize, to fight, and to push back.
Keywords: Infrastructural violence, hydrosocial waterscape, political ecology of water, colonias, U.S.-Mexico borderlands
How to Cite:
Tippin, C. L., (2022) “Ranked-out waterscapes: an ethnography of resistance and exclusion in a U.S.-Mexico border colonia”, Journal of Political Ecology 29(1), 208–222. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/jpe.4868
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture (grant 2015-68007-23130)