Water Regimes, Beyond the public and private sector debate

Dir. : Dominique Lorrain, Franck Poupeau

The book presents a new combinatory approach of water regimes, based on several international case studies (Argentina, Bolivia, China, France, Germany, India, South Africa and the USA, plus a comparison of three cities in Africa) presenting specific challenges for water models. These case studies demonstrate the successes and problems of a range of private sector involvements in the provision of water services, and provide examples of how small-scale systems can compare with larger-scale more technical systems.

Dominique Lorrain, Franck Poupeau (dir.), Water Regimes. Beyond the public and private sector debate, Croydon, Routledge, coll. « Earthscan », 2016, 228 p., ISBN : 978-1-138-66820-1.

The crossed border disputes over sharing Colorado River between the American Southwestern States: A sociological perspective on environmental policies

Murielle Coeurdray, Visiting researcher, iGLOBES (CNRS/University of Arizona); Joan Cortinas Muñoz, Visiting researcher, iGLOBES (CNRS/University of Arizona); Franck Poupeau, Director, iGLOBES (CNRS/University of Arizona); Brian O’Neill, Research Assistant, iGLOBES/Water Ressources Research Center (Univ. of Arizona)

The sharing of the Colorado waters has always been a cross-border issue between Arizona and California since the beginning of the 20th century. The current drought faced by these two states has reignited the tensions on both sides of the border. Our guiding thesis is: the territorial struggles in the past between Arizona and California still serve as structuring elements for current drought issues in the West. We start this article by highlighting the complex and multilevel decision-making process related to the USA water policies. Secondly to illustrate this point, we draw on exemplary career profiles and lobbying actions, in order to show this territorial competition between states over water resources. Thirdly, we show how tensions between the states over how the Colorado River should be shared were politically neutralized in the 1970’s. In conclusion, however, we stress that the tensions in the past over water resources between California and Arizona keep on structuring the debates over current drought issues in the West.

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WATER BANKRUPTCY IN THE LAND OF PLENTY. Steps towards a transatlantic and transdisciplinary assessment of water scarcity in Southern Arizona

Réunissant des chercheurs étasuniens et européens de différentes disciplines (sociologie, géographie, écologie, hydrologie, etc.), ce livre explore les différentes facettes de la gestion de l’eau et de la production des politiques hydriques, à partir du cas de la ville de Tucson, Arizona. Ce travail collectif est aussi un travail collaboratif puisqu’il fait appel à des professionnels du secteur de l’eau, qui font part de leur perception de la situation du sud-ouest étasunien. La recherche a été financée par le projet européen SWAN (Sustainable Water Action) qui visait à développer un dialogue transatlantique et transdisciplinaire entre chercheurs et praticiens de l’eau.


Du reclamation act de 1902 aux megaprojets federaux. Une perspective sociohistorique sur la genèse des politiques hydriques aux USA: le cas de l’Ouest étasunien

Joan Cortinas Muñoz, Murielle coeurdray et Franck Poupeau (UMI Iglobes, University of Arizona/CNRS).

Cet article se propose d’apporter un éclairage aux problèmes de pénurie d’eau que vit actuellement l’ouest des Etats-Unis. A travers un travail de reconstitution historique des politiques hydriques de la région, l’article défend l’idée que la pénurie d’eau actuelle doit se comprendre, en partie, comme le résultat de l’action des élites économiques, politiques et administratives qui ont conçu les politiques hydriques aux USA. Plus concrètement, la pénurie d’eau, au-delà du cycle de sécheresse actuel, est le résultat de la production d’une vision du développement économique traversée par des intérêts et des logiques contradictoires relatifs à l’exploitation des ressources naturelles, largement conçue comme un facteur déterminant de croissance.

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Working Paper 1: Rivers and dams of the American Empire



Murielle Coeurdray (UMI iGlobes)
Joan Cortinas (UMI iGlobes)
Brian O’Neill (UMI iGlobes)
Franck Poupeau (UMI iGlobes)

Coeurdray Murielle, Cortinas Joan, O’Neil Brian, Poupeau Franck, « Rivers and dams of the American Empire. Sociology of the environement and the sphere of power », Working Paper 1. Projet BLUEGRASS, 2015, p 16.


Over the last few years, the environment has become a subject of central importance in the human and social sciences: in both the United States and Europe, interest in political ecology and environmental ethics has grown dramatically (Gagnon 2008 ; Hache 2013); environmental history has become a vast field of study, at once structured and diversified (Lochet & Quenet 2012); political science researchers are focusing on approaches to the governance of resources (Olstrom 1990); and “instruments” have been implemented by institutions responsible for the environment (Lascoumes 1994; Lascoumes & Le Galès 2004). However, environmental sociology is finding it difficult to constitute itself as a specialist field in its own right, to the degree that it is, on occasion, possible to speak of a “resistance” on the part of the discipline to defining an object of research that is still relatively absent from its raisons d’être, for example the jurisdictions of various institutions (Kamaora & Vlassopoulos: 2014). As well as academic blockages, one should also mention a reticence to accept the demands of a field of applied research largely dominated by international expertise, whose centers of interest in terms of social issues are confined to a small number of well-defined themes, among which are adapting to climate change, reporting perceptions of the environment, modeling the decision-making process, and analyzing the participation of stakeholders, in most cases assimilated to “economic actors.” Furthermore, the pragmatist approach (Latour 1991; Hache 2011) consisting of studying the relations between society and its “other,” namely nature, which seems to be increasingly fashioned and transformed by human action, appears to be trapped in an epistemological constructivism which does not so much efface the “great dichotomy” (nature/culture; object/ subject, etc.), largely imagined and reinvented a posteriori, as dissolve its object in human practices carried out in a kind of sociological void … continue reading