chapter  13
16 Pages

Animism, economics and sustainable water development

ByDavid Groenfeldt

A spiritual orientation to water, whether as a substance (water itself) or as a water body (a river, lake, spring, ocean) o en con icts with dominant materialist assumptions of water and how it should be managed. Such con icts can be most starkly seen in disputes between traditional indigenous communities and proponents of economic development projects (UNESCO 2006; Johnston 1994). When water is considered a commodity to be managed for economically productive purposes, the proponents of a water development project may see themselves as advocates of the larger public interest, while indigenous leaders opposed to the project consider protection of the waters to be their sacred obligation to Mother Earth.