Articles | Volume 70, issue 1
Geogr. Helv., 70, 33–44, 2015
Geogr. Helv., 70, 33–44, 2015
Standard article
05 Feb 2015
Standard article | 05 Feb 2015

How to govern the urban hydrosocial cycle: archaeo-genealogy of hydromentalities in the Swiss urban water sector between 1850 and 1950

P. Rattu and R. Véron P. Rattu and R. Véron
  • Institute of Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne, Géopolis, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract. Switzerland appears to be a privileged place to investigate the urban political ecology of tap water because of the specificities of its political culture and organization and the relative abundance of drinking water in the country. In this paper, we refer to a Foucauldian theorization of power that is increasingly employed in the social sciences, including in human geography and political ecology. We also implement a Foucauldian methodology. In particular, we propose an archaeo-genealogical analysis of discourse to apprehend the links between urban water and the forms of governmentality in Switzerland between 1850 and 1950. Results show that two forms of governmentality, namely biopower and neoliberal governmentality, were present in the water sector in the selected period. Nonetheless, they deviate from the models proposed by Foucault, as their periodization and the classification of the technologies of power related to them prove to be much more blurred than Foucault's work, mainly based on France, might have suggested.