A Water Perspective on Land Competition

Antje Bruns (Lead Author), Tobias Krueger, Bruce Lankford, Fanny Frick, Catherine Grasham, Christina Spitzbart-Glasl

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter reflects on land competition from a water perspective. Conceptual thoughts are enriched with evidence drawn from case studies as well as other published studies about both land and water. At the same time, it lays down an analytical framework for these case studies. Starting with a discussion of the inherent relationship between land and water, we explore recent disconnects in land and water studies that make it difficult to collate empirical evidence and comprehensive understanding of how competition between water and land are inherently linked. For us the term competition refers to gaining access to or control over—either land or water—and thus simultaneously captures social and material dimensions. To address these linkages, we employ the concept of waterscapes. One way of seeing waterscapes is through the lens of the competition that occurs at specific places, in various positions and on/across various scales, thereby capturing a combined view of land and water. The notion of waterscapes is mainly used by scholars from the fields of political ecology and critical geography thinking to explore how power is wielded, and in determining when and where who or what gets how much water/land. We briefly review the different notions of competition in disconnected literature concerning land and water in order to instil a further analytical dimension: whilst the term “competition” is increasingly used in land change science to refer to the global rush for land, water scholars refer rather to the various means of water governance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLand Use Competition
EditorsJörg Niewöhner, Antje Bruns, Patrick Hostert, Tobias Krueger, Jonas Ø. Nielsen, Helmut Haberl, Christian Lauk, Juliana Lutz, Daniel Müller
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-33628-2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2016

Publication series

NameHuman-Environment Interactions


  • Critical geography
  • Waterscape
  • Governance
  • Land–water coupling
  • Resources
  • Water as a hybrid

Cite this