January 2014

Book Review – Acequia: Water Sharing, Sanctity, and Place


By Sylvia Rodríguez, School for Advanced Research Press, 2006


This book, winner of the 2007 Association of Latino and Latina Anthropologists Book Award, is a fascinating account of the interaction of water, faith and landscape in northern New Mexico, detailing the historic management of water and its impact on daily life in the Taos Valley.

Every society must have a system for capturing, storing and distributing water, a system encompassing both technology and a rationale for the division of this finite resource. Today, people around the world face severe and growing water scarcity, and everywhere this vital resource is ceasing to be a right and becoming a commodity. Rodríguez places her acequia study in this global arena. Many northern New Mexicans still gather to clean the ditches each spring and irrigate fields and gardens with the water that runs through them. Increasingly, acequia associations go to court to defend their water rights against the competing claims brought by population growth, urbanization, and industrial or resort development. Their insistence on the traditional “sharing of waters” offers a solution to the current worldwide water crisis.




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