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The Global Politics of Bottled Water: Towards an Integrative Research Agenda

The Global Politics of Bottled Water: Towards an Integrative Research Agenda

My talk at ISA 2016 reprised to the School of International Service (SIS) PhD Colloquium at American University, Washington DC, March 30th, 2016. I wanted to get feedback on which potential topics could be addressed through lenses of international relations, comparative politics and public policy research.

Raul Pacheco-Vega

March 30, 2016

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  1. The Global Politics of Bottled Water: Towards an Integrative Research

  2. Bottled water: A global environmental governance paradox  Water should

    be a global human right (UN Resolution 64/292, July 28, 2010)  Yet, bottled water has grown to become one of the most profitable industries globally.  Commodifying the human right to water (Pacheco- Vega 2015)
  3. Research Question  How can we analyze bottled water within

    the context of a global environmental dynamics? and  What analytical purchase do these approaches give us?  global environmental politics  comparative politics  international relations
  4. Context: Other scholarly treatments of bottled water  Hawkins, Potter

    and Race (2015) “Plastic Water: The Social and Material Life of Bottled Water” MIT Press.  Material culture treatment of “how bottled water insinuated themselves into our lives”  Gleick (2011) “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water” Island Press.  From a natural science perspective, a social science perspective on bottled water  Clarke (2005) “Inside The Bottle: An Expose of the Bottled Water Industry”  An activist’s view of the BW industry (briefly takes on the regulatory component too)
  5. Context: Other book-length treatments of bottled water  Mascha (2006)

    Fine Waters: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Most Distinctive Bottled Waters. Quirk Books  !?!?!?!? There is a sommelier for bottled water  Royte (2009) “Bottlemania: Big Business, Local Springs, and the Battle Over America's Drinking Water” Bloomsbury  A very strong focus on the plastic bottle, but an indictment too of bottled water  Salzman (2012) “Drinking Water: A History” The Overlook Press  From the tap water perspective, a legal and historical view of why bottled water has taken over our lives
  6. From a global perspective…  Conca (2005) Governing Water: Contentious

    Transnational Politics and Global Institution Building, The MIT Press.  Water seen at a global scale from an IR perspective.  Bottled water and mercantilization touched upon, inspiring further work…
  7. Context: new book/research project  Essays on the global politics

    of bottled water  Components:  Study on ENGO mobilizations against Nestlé in Canada and the United States (WPSA, MPSA, CPSA)  Research on determinants of bottled water consumption in Mexico (w/Alfredo Ortega, RISSA, PMRC), stories about BW (w/Laura Estrada), marketing (w/Karina Leyva), and mobilizations (w/Daniela Ramirez) – book in Spanish, chapter in English  Analysis of anti-bottled water vs. pro-tap water campaigns in US and Canadian universities (CPSA)  Work on the ethics of “ethical bottled water” (w/ Christiana Peppard, Fordham University)  Investigation of new regulatory frameworks (or lack thereof) for bottled water in cities (Water Centric Cities, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)
  8. Two interrelated bodies of literature Comparative Politics  National patterns

    of bottled water sociopolitical dynamics  Consumption  Trading (domestic markets)  Bottled water vs. soft drinks  Comparisons of domestic regulations towards bottled water  Extraction  Distribution  Marketing International relations  Geopolitics  Bottled water as a source of international/transnational conflict  International political economy  Global markets where packaged water trading occurs  Norm diffusion (or NON-diffusion)  Human right to water as a norm – is it conflicting with BW global acceptance?
  9. Transnationalism and bottled water  Role of states in governing

    bottled water (IR)  Role of non-state actors in the global governance of bottled water  Two interrelated projects:  Comparing environmental activism (comparative politics)  against bottled water  pro-tap water  Transnational environmental coalition building or transnational activism (IR)  Towards promoting HRW (HRW as an international norm that can be then pushed forward by environmental NGOs)
  10. HRW as a frame of meaning against privatization of water

    supply vs acceptance of bottled water (norm diffusion)
  11. HRW and BW from a domestic- international perspective  Whereas

    previous conceptualizations of HRW focused on it as STRATEGY, I side with Mirosa and Harris (2012) in that we need to reconsider HRW as a framework for GOAL ATTAINMENT.  Implementing the HRW will necessitate a focus on two simultaneous strategies: a) Remunicipalization of private water service delivery b) Regulation and control of the global bottled water industry across scales
  12. Feedback sought:  What kind of IR/comparative politics/public policy pressing

    questions arise when you see the topic of bottled water?  Would it make sense to make this a book project or just a series of articles?  Potential case studies for the comparative project.  Further avenues for research
  13. Thank you! Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD Centro de Investigación y Docencia

    Económicas (CIDE) http://www.raulpacheco.org Twitter: @raulpacheco Facebook: DrPachecoVega E-mail: [email protected]