Water struggles as resistance to neoliberal capitalism

A time of reproductive unrest

Madelaine Moore
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Drawing on the rich history of social reproduction theory (SRT), the book situates struggles over water within an account of capitalism that emphasises the continuing relevance of expropriation. Via an engagement with the Irish water charges protests and resistance to unconventional gas in Australia, the work explores the tension between life-making and profit-making that defines the new water commodity frontier. Struggles over water, as Moore shows, are about more than access or management of a resource. What is at stake are the social relations and institutions that allow water grabs to occur. Taking up David Harvey’s conception of a spatial fix and reading it through SRT, Moore develops the notion of a spherical fix to show how crises move through the conditions that make capitalist accumulation possible. The spherical fix highlights the dependency of accumulation on the expropriation of nature and socially reproductive labour, key dynamics of the global water crisis. The depletion of capital’s conditions of possibility are, however, only one part of the story. A central question raised is how class emerges in and beyond the points of contradiction that mark water’s commodification. What Moore finds are multiple labour powers that contain the potential to be world-making. Working at the points of contradiction, struggles over water both interrupt processes of capitalist reproduction and open a space for subversive rationalities. In Australia and Ireland, what has emerged is a time of reproductive unrest.

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