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Theses

Façons de gouverner et façons de faire l'eau en Crau

Abstract : This thesis analyzes the institutions and the social relations which shape water use in the Crau plain. The inductive and multi-scale approach explores the interactions between human and non-human actors that contribute to water governmance and practices. The fieldwork focused on the dynamics of modernization in water over the last two centuries and particularly on moves toward integrated water management. Archival work drawing on historical and contemporary sources makes it possible to identify the continuities and discontinuities in manners to govern water. Interviews and the observation of meetings, both professional and public, provide insights into the actual interplay among actors. The genealogy and functioning of governing apparatuses, as well as the ways in which they are adapted, circumvented or opposed in turn, are analyzed using a constructivist and historical perspective. This work thus contributes to a political ecology of the first world by bringing together a Latourian approach with a Foucauldian study of governing manners.Water in the Crau is a multifaceted object appropriated in a number of different ways. the gravity-fed irrigation of 12 000 ha of grassland producing hay in the Crau relies on a canal network that has derived water from the Durance since 1554, and has been supplied since 1972 by the hydroelectric infrastructure. This has resulted in a frontier between the dry Crau (Coussouls) and the “productive” wet Crau. These irrigation practices account for 70% of the volume of the groundwater table. Since the 1970s, industrial development, intensive agriculture and urban expansion have led to an increasing exploitation of groundwater. This water sustains 270 000 inhabitants and is considered vulnerable, particularly as it is artificially sustained by hay production. The groundwater is subject to management apparatuses that aim to protect the resource through a territorial approach.The long term study of the articulation of specific techno-scientific knowledge and manners to govern water highlight the heterogeneous network of actors and objects that interact to modernize water. “Modernity” is understood as an emancipatory ideal based on increased objectivity, efficacy, profitability and formalism (Latour, 2004). This research analyzes how the different manners to modernize water transform the materiality of water itself. The study of material, symbolic or normative constructions underpinning and territorializing the modernization apparatuses of water governance is complemented by the study of arrangements, adaptations and resistance that they generate in turn. The heart of this study, and its empirical contribution, lie in this tension between governing manners and everyday practices.Three waves of modernization of water have been identified from the grounded perspective of the Crau. Following the French Revolution, the first wave aimed to conquer and to improve the Crau. The state progressively imposed water regulation and supported the cultivation of Coussouls by private actors. In the 1950s, the second wave, implemented as part of a project to reconstruct France, emphasized hydraulic abundance. Since the 1990s, a third wave has highlighted the scarcity of water and the vulnerability o users, and called for integrated management. The vivisection of apparatuses of groundwater management considers its functioning in both its formal aspect and informal practices. Discourses of water crises reveal themselves as an integral part of water management. They are deployed to mobilize historical actors and users, by integrating them in a new governmentality within which they have to work.
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Brice Auvet. Façons de gouverner et façons de faire l'eau en Crau. Géographie. Institut agronomique, vétérinaire et forestier de France, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019IAVF0002⟩. ⟨tel-02379173⟩

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