Water, Environment, and Health

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Political Ecology, Water, Health, Environment, Bolivia, Ecuador, The U.S., Cholera, Sanitation

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Access to and perceptions of water seem to be changing. To some people water is seen as scarce and almost magical; to others it is an underappreciated, plentiful resource. Whether through the creation of dams, increased groundwater pumping, or changing water allocation among states and regions, water is moving due to human intervention. In this chapter we employ a political ecology perspective to understand how flows of water impact environments and human health. The chapter includes three case studies clarifying previously invisible relations and hidden agendas that shape water use and practice. We show how the varied ways in which people perceive and use water change the systems in which they are embedded, and their impacts on human health. Finally, we provide ways to engage the idea of a “web” of human-environment linkages, and encourage investigating the unexpected relationships between water and the social and environmental spheres that tether its use.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Water, Environment, and Health, in M. Singer (Ed.), A Companion to the Anthropology of Environmental Health, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., p. 219-235