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Dr R. A. Boelens (1965) has been appointed professor by special appointment of the Political Ecology of Water in Latin America at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The chair has been established on behalf of the International Congress of Americanists (ICA) Foundation. As professor by special appointment, Boelens will be working within the interuniversity organisation Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA).

Prof Rutgerd Boelens
Photo: Dirk Gillissen

Boelens will be carrying out research concerning the different ways in which water is used and managed and how water rights are established, with a particular focus on the uneven distribution of water and decision-making powers over it. Power and politics are driving forces behind the way that these relationships are legitimated and perpetuated. Boelens's research also looks at strategies and manifestations of dissent against inequalities in water management. The interaction between formal and informal rights and governance plays an important role in this. Boelens's study of social, technological and ecological processes brings together the disciplines of natural and social sciences. One important aspect of the chair is also the supervision of Master's students and PhD candidates within new research projects.

Boelens is associate professor of Water Resources Management at Wageningen University. He is responsible for the academic coordination of several international research programmes focused on water policy, legal pluralism and the political and cultural dimensions of water management. Boelens holds the special chair in ‘Territorial Studies’ at the National Science Foundation CONACYT in Mexico and is visiting professor at the Catholic University of Peru. He is the founder and coordinator of the research alliance Justicia Hidrica (Water Justice), an intercontinental network focused on research, training and policy analysis in multiple countries. The alliance works with academic and policymaking organisations, water-user organisations and the indigenous peasant movements. Boelens is the author of many scientific articles and books on the powers, cultures and politics of water.