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Monopoly process and State formation: water control in the Valley of Mexico in historical perspective (XV to XIX centuries) (in Spanish).

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Esteban CastroORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).


The paper adopts a long-term socio-historical approach to examine some aspects of the interrelations between processes of social control over water and the formation of State power, focusing on the case of Mexico. Drawing on conceptual contributions from German sociologist Norbert Elias, in particular his notion of "monopoly process", the work explores the sui generis character of the social forms of water control that, in a way dissimilar from the case of land tenancy, have tended towards the concentration of formal power over this common good in the hands of public institutions. The paper also discusses the use of the concept of "socio-ecological regime" in relation to "hydraulic regimes", that is, forms of water control with different degrees of institutionalization that can be identified in the Mexican case, in historical perspective. In addition to Norbert Elias’ contributions, the paper brings together other classical authors from the literature on water-related social, legal and political aspects, environmental and economic history, anthropology, and the rich tradition of work on the history of water technology, with emphasis on the Mexican case. This work forms part of a research that studied the formation of citizenship rights, which are constitutive of the state-formation process, by observing the interrelations between state power and the development of citizenship rights in Mexico. This topic is highly relevant, given that control over water and the debates around the status of water (is it a common good? Is it a public good? Is it a commodity? There should be a right to water?) constitute a central element in contemporary social and political struggles.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Castro JE

Publication type: Working Paper

Publication status: Published

Journal: Documentos de Trabajo

Year: 2017

Pages: 4-69

Publisher: Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Estudios Latinoamericanos (IELAT), Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Alcalá de Henares, Spain