chapter  3
16 Pages

The human right to what? Water, rights, humans, and the relation of things

In this chapter the idea of the human right to water is approached from a relational perspective. The ½uidity of water and humanity are taken as a starting point for considering how, when mediated by the idea of a “right”, a kind of relation is expressed that entails the co-production of both. When considered in this way, proclaiming a speci¼c human right to water ¼xes humans and water in a certain kind of relationship. Moreover, by rede¼ning the right, the identity of both “human” and “water” are changed. The chapter proposes broadening the idea of the human right to water from this relational perspective. As it is usually stated, this right de¼nes a relationship between the individual human being and a certain quantity of water necessary for personal and domestic needs. One may however retain the rhetorical, political and potentially legal power of the human right to water while formulating the right in a way that allows for a diversity of hydrosocial arrangements. Building on the idea that a right constitutes a kind of relation, it is theoretically and practically possible to call for rights that involve, on one hand, a collective identity of human being – or to use Marx’s term, “species being” – and on the other hand an identity of water as a process rather than a quantity. Reformulating the human right to water thus rests on and gives strength to identities of humanity and water that are collective, processual and interrelated.