Water as rural heritage: Reworking modernity through resource conflict in Edwards County, Kansas

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12 Scopus citations


Conflicts over changing uses of natural resources are familiar within communities of the Western US and are usually resolved through legal processes. This paper analyzes resource conflict through juxtaposing impact analyses often used in their juridical resolution with discourse analyses of affected rural communities. The purchase of property by a mid-size city in central Kansas to transfer water from a ranch along the Arkansas River in rural Edwards County evoked expressions of water as "heritage", functioning as a placed-based, defensive ideology. Plans for the first rural-to-urban interbasin water transfer in Kansas failed to materialize into a legal proposal because of the controversy that ensued, despite the fact that impact analyses suggested little material effect. In light of decades of decline due to economic frustration, political marginalization, and demographic outmigration, rural communities maintain the symbols of nature in order to legitimate their struggle against what are seen as intrusive, destructive elements of changing uses of natural resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-66
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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