RUTGERD BOELENS

Rutgerd Boelens is Professor ‘Water Governance and Social Justice’  at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, and Professor ‘Political Ecology of Water’ with CEDLA, University of Amsterdam.

He also is Visiting Professor at the Catholic University of Peru and the Central University of Ecuador.

He coordinates the Justicia Hídrica alliance, and the transdisciplinary action-research programs Riverhood and River Commons. These cross-cultural alliances consist of research-activist-grassroots networks in five continents that focus on supporting and learning with “new water justice movements”: translocal, multi-actor, cross-pollinating. Both networks also focus on the innovative and disruptive practices of world’s “river commoning” initiatives, claiming river justice. Co-learning takes place with movements and commoning endeavours that inspire radically new river enlivening strategies, institutions and practices, potentiating new approaches for environmentally just water governance across cultural and scalar boundaries.

In the article “Riverhood: Political ecologies of socionature commoning and translocal struggles for water justice”, with Arturo Escobar, Erik Swyngedouw, Karen Bakker, Lena Hommes, Sue Jackson, Leila Harris, Nuria Hernández-Mora, Joan Martínez-Alier, Tom Perreault, Astrid Ulloa, Jeroen Vos, Bibiana Duarte, Daniele Tubino, Arjen Wals, and many other political ecologists, Rutgerd Boelens and colleagues present a political-conceptual framework inviting  for academic/activist research and alliance-building (Journal of Peasant Studies 2023).

Boelens’ research focuses on political ecology, water rights, legal pluralism, water cultures and cultural politics, governmentality, hydrosocial territories, river politics, environmental justice and social mobilization.

Among his recent books are “Water, Power and Identity. The Cultural Politics of Water in the Andes”, and “Water Justice”, Cambridge University Press (with Tom Perreault & Jeroen Vos).

For publications, see:


Some recent publications:

Houart, C., J. Hoogesteger & R. Boelens (2024): Power and politics across species boundaries: towards Multispecies Justice in Riverine Hydrosocial Territories, Environmental Politics, DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2024.2345561.

Hofstetter, M., Bolding, A., Boelens, R. (2023). Rooted Water Collectives in a Modernist and Neoliberal Imaginary: Threats and Perspectives for Rural Water Commons. Water, 15, 3736. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/w15213736

Berge, J.v.d., Scheunpflug, L., Vos, J. and Boelens, R. (2023). Social movements in defense of public water services: the case of Spain. Front. Water 5:1200440. doi: 10.3389/frwa.2023.1200440

Boelens, R., A. Escobar, K. Bakker, L. Hommes, E. Swyngedouw, et al.  (2023). Riverhood: political ecologies of socionature commoning and translocal struggles for water justice, Journal of Peasant Studies, 50:3, 1125-1156, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2022.2120810

Duarte-Abadía, B., R. Boelens & E. Buitrago (2023). Neoliberal Commensuration and New Enclosures of the Commons. Mining and market-environmentalism governmentalities. Territory, Politics, Governance, 11(7):1480–1500 https://doi.org/10.1080/21622671.2021.1913216

Xu, Q., Veldwisch, G.J., and R. Boelens (2022). Rural Drinking Water Governance Politics in China: Governmentality Schemes and Negotiations from the Grassroots. Political Geography, 97, 102703, doi: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2022.102703

Berge, J. van den, R. Boelens, J. Vos (2022). Water Justice and Europe’s Right2Water Movement. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 38:1, 173-191, DOI: 10.1080/07900627.2021.1898347

Prieto López, A., B. Duarte-Abadía & R. Boelens (2021). Territory in conflict: land dispossession, water grabbing and mobilization for environmental justice in southern Spain, International Journal of Water Resources Development, 37(6): 996-1020, DOI: 10.1080/07900627.2020.1854693

Dupuits, E., M. Baud, R. Boelens, F. de Castro, B. Hogenboom (2020). Scaling up but losing out? Water commons’ dilemmas between transnational movements and grassroots struggles in Latin America. Ecological Economics 172, 106625, doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106625

Vos, J., R. Boelens, J.P. Venot, M. Kuper (2020). Rooted water collectives: Towards an analytical framework. Ecological Economics 173, 106651, doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106651

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