Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Translocal resource governance, social relations and aspirations: Linking translocality and feminist political ecology to explore farmer-managed irrigation systems and migration in Nepal

Leder, Stephanie


Widespread male out-migration presents major challenges to the sustainability of existing collective irrigation systems. However, the effects of socio-spatial changes on collective resource governance systems remain unknown. This paper addresses this gap by building a synthesis of translocality and Feminist Political Ecology (FPE). Translocality examines the socio-spatial interconnectedness of rural societies in the context of out-migration. FPE explores how changing gender and social relations shape resource governance. A translocal Feminist Political Ecology framework (tFPE) contextualizes resource governance within translocal social flows, and captures (i) translocal resource governance, (ii) translocal social relations, and (iii) translocal aspirations. Drawing from qualitative interviews and participatory methods on two farmer-managed irrigation systems in Far Western Nepal, I illustrate the complexity, intersectionality and ambiguity of translocal social relations in collective resource governance. Translocal resource governance is shaped by changing household and labor relations marked by remittances, and translocal flows of social and human resources, ideas and knowledge, e.g. migrants’ advice via phone on when and how to irrigate. Translocal social relations entail marginalized groups, i. e., women and elderly people, providing increased labor contributions and possibly receiving migrants’ support in the form of advice and networks. However, authority and power relations are sustained in resource governance by mostly upper caste men. Translocal aspirations to the home village by both migrants and non-migrants is ambivalent and leads them to hope for frequent visits home, while aspirations and shame turn them away from agriculture towards earning higher incomes through migration. The tFPE framework emphasizes important but understudied translocal social relations and aspirations in collective resource governance, water, irrigation and migration research. By linking translocality and FPE, I show how translocal resource governance, social relations and aspirations change everyday practices and gender, caste and labor relations in irrigation, and how we may understand the water-migration nexus.


Irrigation systems; Feminist Political Ecology; Migration; Translocality; Gender; Water; Agriculture

Published in

2024, Volume: 148, article number: 103905

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Human Geography
    Social Anthropology

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)