A Precarious Confluence: Neoliberalism, Race, and Water Insecurity


  • Michael Mascarenhas Temple University Press




Three very different field sites—First Nations communities in Canada, water charities in the Global South, and the US cities of Flint and Detroit, Michigan—point to the increasing precariousness of water access for historically marginalized groups, including Indigenous peoples, African Americans, and people of color around the globe. This multi-sited ethnography underscores a common theme: power and racism lie deep in the core of today’s global water crisis. These cases reveal the concrete mechanisms, strategies, and interconnections that are galvanized by the economic, political, and racial projects of neoliberalism. In this sense neoliberalism is not only downsizing democracy but also creating both the material and ideological forces for a new form of discrimination in the provision of drinking water around the globe. These cases suggest that contemporary notions of environmental and social justice will largely hinge on how we come to think about water in the twenty-first century.