Madelaine Moore
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The contestation of water grabs in Australia
in Water struggles as resistance to neoliberal capitalism
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Through struggle capital’s given terrain, including the processes and logics allowing water grabs to occur, was politicised. The tensions already outlined became lived and contested; reproductive unrest evolves from describing objective conditions to subjective experience and struggle. In the struggle worldviews emerged that were incoherent with earlier worldviews. This chapter emphasises how agency emerges in struggle, treating labour as an emergent category. In Australia, by redefining the what of water, rural communities rearticulated society and nature (revealing their internal relation), countering the alienated socio-nature relation underpinning expropriation. Understanding water and communities as co-constitutive necessitated separating questions of land ownership from private property, raising questions of dispossession and problematising terra nullius. An incoherence with the dominant logics of the state and market emerged, defining a class antagonism drawn on ecological lines. Water, through this shift, came to be understood as a constellation of contested social relations. As a result, the emergent class category ‘labour’ captured both people’s relation to the means of production and the process of expropriation, rather than a stratified position in society. In recasting the processes of capital accumulation from labour’s vantage point, the arena for class struggle was broadened to include the home, nature, and neighbourhood.

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