Rediscovering Community Participation in Persian Qanats: An Actor-Network Framework


  • Arash Salek Gemeente Rotterdam



qanats, participatory water management, social ecosystem, Actor-Network Theory


Most of Iran's inland areas have permanently lain within arid regions. Today, Iran’s groundwater depletion-rate today among the fastest in the world. From the beginning of the agricultural revolution and land-reform in the 1960s, Iran has adopted a governmental highly bureaucratic approach to water management fuelled by technological improvements in high water-dam constructions and modernization of irrigation infrastructure. However, these systems relied on the centralized water management which couldn’t solve the issue of the country’s increasing water-stresses and therefore it has been challenged by many critiques from civil society and academia. For centuries, Iran has relied on socio-economic networks to manage groundwater and the traditional method of water-exploitation named qanats which represents an effective system of social corporation and civic participation in water management and in solving the issue of water scarcity in dry regions. This paper introduces a theoretical framework for the necessary transition from the centralized water management towards a multi-actor water-governance regime by adapting the Actor-Network Theory for understanding the traditional patterns of collective water management inside qanat-dependent communities.


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How to Cite

Salek, A. (2019). Rediscovering Community Participation in Persian Qanats: An Actor-Network Framework. European Journal of Creative Practices in Cities and Landscapes, 2(1), 153–172.