The best books on struggles against water grabbing

Why am I passionate about this?

Andreas Bieler’s main research focus has been on the possibilities of labour movements, broadly defined, to represent the interests of their members and wider societies in struggles against capitalist exploitation in times of neo-liberal globalisation. His research on water struggles in Europe was motivated by the fact that this has been one of the few areas, in which resistance has actually been successful. Understanding the reasons behind this success may help us understand what is necessary for success in other areas of resistance. 


I wrote...

Fighting for Water: Resisting Privatization in Europe

By Andreas Bieler,

Book cover of Fighting for Water: Resisting Privatization in Europe

What is my book about?

In the wake of the global financial crisis, water services have come under renewed neoliberal assault across Europe. At the same time, the struggle against water privatization has continued to pick up pace from the re-municipalization of water in Grenoble in 2000 to the United Nations declaration of water as a human right in 2010.

In Fighting for Water, Andreas Bieler draws on extensive fieldwork to dissect the underlying dynamics of the struggle for public water in Europe. By analysing the successful referendum against water privatization in Italy, the European Citizens' Initiative on 'Water and Sanitation are a Human Right', the struggles against water privatization in Greece and water charges in Ireland, Bieler shows why water has been a fruitful arena for resistance against neoliberal restructuring.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Water Struggles as Resistance to Neoliberal Capitalism: A Time of Reproductive Unrest

Andreas Bieler Why did I love this book?

By comparing the struggles against water charges in Ireland with struggles over the extraction of unconventional gas in Australia, Madelaine Moore provides a fascinating account of common roots of resistance underpinning different forms of water grabbing.

Drawing on feminist Social Reproduction Theory she clearly demonstrates how these moments of contestation not only contest profit-making with water, but capitalist reproduction as a whole. 

By Madelaine Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Water Struggles as Resistance to Neoliberal Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides an important intervention into social reproduction theory and the politics of water. Presenting an incorporated comparison, it analyses the conjuncture following the 2007 financial crisis through the lens of water expropriation and resistance. This brings into view the way that transnational capital has made use of and been facilitated by the strategic selectivities of both the Irish and the Australian state, as well as the particular class formations that emerged in resistance to such water grabs. What is revealed is a crisis-ridden system that is marked by increasing reproductive unrest - class understood through the lens of…


Book cover of A Vital Frontier: Water Insurgencies in Europe

Andreas Bieler Why did I love this book?

Coming from an anthropological, ethnographic approach, Andrea Muehlebach provides an illuminating account of the motives, hopes, and disappointments driving activists in their struggle against the financialization of water.

Through a close engagement with water struggles on the ground Muehlebach paints a rich picture of the large variety of forms of resistance in the very struggle over life itself. 

By Andrea Muehlebach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Vital Frontier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In A Vital Frontier Andrea Muehlebach examines the work of activists across Europe as they organize to preserve water as a commons and public good in the face of privatization. Traversing social, political, legal, and hydrological terrains, Muehlebach situates water as a political fault line at the frontiers of financialization, showing how the seemingly relentless expansion of capital into public utilities is being challenged by an equally relentless and often successful insurgence of political organizing. Drawing on ethnographic research, Muehlebach presents water protests as a vital politics that comprises popular referenda, barricades in the streets, huge demonstrations, the burning of…


Book cover of Our Public Water Future: The global experience with remunicipalisation

Andreas Bieler Why did I love this book?

This edited volume provides an insightful collection of successful examples of the wave of re-municipalisations of water around the world.

Overall, there were 235 cases of water remunicipalisation in 37 countries, affecting over 100 million people between 2000 and 2015.

Reviewing the experiences of these instances of taking control of water back into public hands, the book provides a valuable discussion of what is necessary for making water re-municipalisation a success of progressive politics.

It outlines what is possible, but also what the dangers are, which need to be confronted. 

Book cover of Whose Water Is It, Anyway? Taking Water Protection into Public Hands

Andreas Bieler Why did I love this book?

In Whose Water Is It Anyway, Maude Barlow, one of the world’s foremost activists in the struggle against water grabbing, provides an account of the rich history of resistance against profit-making with water.

Importantly, the book is not just about the history of resistance. By introducing the Blue Communities project it provides people with an opportunity of engaging in concrete grassroots action, accomplishing something in the here and now.

To become a Blue Community, a municipality must recognize water as a human right, run water and sanitation services as a public company and ban or phase out bottled water in municipal events. 

By Maude Barlow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whose Water Is It, Anyway? Taking Water Protection into Public Hands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Maude Barlow is one of our planet’s greatest water defenders.” ― Naomi Klein, bestselling author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

“This book is a blueprint for communities around the world to take back that responsibility and maintain water as a human right.”  ― David Suzuki

“This is a must-read.” ― Jane Fonda

A call to action from former Senior Advisor on Water to the U.N., honorary chairperson of the Council of Canadians, chair of Washing-based Food and Water Watch, and councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council

The Blue Communities Project is dedicated to three primary things:…


Book cover of Water Politics: Governance, Justice and the Right to Water

Andreas Bieler Why did I love this book?

The book provides an excellent collection of the different ways of how ‘the right to water,’ affirmed by the United Nations in 2010, has been taken up around the world in the struggles against water grabbing and for access to this essential source of life.

While taking stock of debates around ‘the right to water,’ the various contributions also point to novel ways of how to secure this right. 

By Farhana Sultana (editor), Alex Loftus (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Water Politics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Scholarship on the right to water has proliferated in interesting and unexpected ways in recent years. This book broadens existing discussions on the right to water in order to shed critical light on the pathways, pitfalls, prospects, and constraints that exist in achieving global goals, as well as advancing debates around water governance and water justice.

The book shows how both discourses and struggles around the right to water have opened new perspectives, and possibilities in water governance, fostering new collective and moral claims for water justice, while effecting changes in laws and policies around the world. In light of…


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Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

Book cover of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

Gabrielle Robinson Author Of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Retired english professor

Gabrielle's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Gabrielle found her grandfather’s diaries after her mother’s death, only to discover that he had been a Nazi. Born in Berlin in 1942, she and her mother fled the city in 1945, but Api, the one surviving male member of her family, stayed behind to work as a doctor in a city 90% destroyed.

Gabrielle retraces Api’s steps in the Berlin of the 21st century, torn between her love for the man who gave her the happiest years of her childhood and trying to come to terms with his Nazi membership, German guilt, and political responsibility.

Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

What is this book about?

"This is not a book I will forget any time soon."
Story Circle Book Reviews

Moving and provocative, Api's Berlin Diaries offers a personal perspective on the fall of Berlin 1945 and the far-reaching aftershocks of the Third Reich.

After her mother's death, Robinson was thrilled to find her beloved grandfather's war diaries-only to discover that he had been a Nazi.

The award-winning memoir shows Api, a doctor in Berlin, desperately trying to help the wounded in cellars without water or light. He himself was reduced to anxiety and despair, the daily diary his main refuge. As Robinson retraces Api's…


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