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Protecting a Sacred Gift: Water and Social Change in Mexico

Scott Whiteford and Roberto Melville, editors
Protecting a Sacred Gift: Water and Social Change in Mexico
ISBN: 978-1-87836-746-4
2002/270 pages
U.S.-Mexico Contemporary Perspectives Series
Distributed for the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego

"This book is a must read for anyone interested in Mexican or American water policy."—Suzanne M. Michel, Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias, San Diego State University


Protecting a Sacred Gift makes a strong case that culture, gender, place, politics, and history all shape Mexico's water resources policy, management strategies, and ultimately, its physical and cultural landscapes. This edited volume presents diverse disciplinary approaches—anthropology, development stduies, geography, history, political science, sociology, and women's studies—all of which converge on theoretical and substantive interest in equity, public participation, and power associated with water.

Indeed, the editors make the bold claim that water resources management must go far beyond technological innovation and economic efficiency to include "visions of fairness in access, protection of the least privileged, engagement of stakeholders in all phases of distribution and maintenance, and a view of development that is sustainable."

This volume's multidisciplinary, critical, and detailed analysis of these topics is long overdue, not only for Mexico, but also for its "technologically advanced" neighbor, the United States.


  • Water and Social Change in Mexico: An Introduction—Scott Whiteford and Roberto Melville.
  • A Paradoxical Privatization: Challenges to Community-Managed Drinking Water Systems in the Valley of Mexico—Michael C. Ennis-McMillan.
  • Impact of the Pánuco River Irrigation Project on Ejidatario Farmers —Esteban Valtierra and Scott G. Witter.
  • Moving In or Staying Out: Gender Dimensions of Water Markets —Rhodante Ahlers.
  • The Transfer of Irrigation Districts: Dynamics of Gender Relations—Gabriela Monsalvo Velázquez, Emma Zapata Martelo, and Pilar Alberti Manzanares.
  • Managing Social Relations under the Transfer of Irrigation Management in the Michoacán Lowlands—Luz Nereida Pérez Prado.
  • Irrigated Agriculture on Ejidos: Complementarities with Off-Farm Economic Strategies—Stephanie Buechler.
  • Local Power Structure and the Distribution of Irrigation Water in Coastal Guerrero—Taurino Hernández M..
  • Supplying Water to the Cities: Mexico City's Thirst and Rural Water Rights —Claudia Cirelli.
  • Water Supply Performance, Policy, and Politics on Mexico's Northern Border—Nicolás Pineda.
  • ¡Aguas! Historical Water Crisis in Oaxaca City, Mexico—M. Brian Riley, Arthur D. Murphy, and Manuel Esparza.
  • Different Managers, Same Problems: Public versus Private Management of Municipal Water Service in Monterrey—Vivienne Bennett.
  • Decentralizing Water Policy on the U.S.-Mexico Border—Stephen P. Mumme and Christopher Brown.
  • The Production of Water for Mexican Development—David Barkin.