Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

6/1/2013 - 5/31/2014

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

The Transnational Development of Water Law in and around the British Empire, 1850-1950

FAIN: FA-57363-13

David Schorr
Tel Aviv University (Tel Aviv 93621 Israel)

This book project aims to illuminate the background of today's controversies over water, by examining the transplantation, modification, and rejection of water-law norms across legal cultures and regions, and particularly the central role of the British Empire in the process. Turning what has been a largely national story into a transnational and trans-regional one, it will examine how legal rules and principles were borrowed, modified, implemented, and at times rejected by those who shaped water law and policy. Water law will be studied as a multi-focal and multi-directional project, the product of competing interests, ideologies, and views flowing between the far-flung territories of the British Empire (as well as some outside it). The study aims to historicize current policy debates over water privatization and commodification, and complicate both conventional historical explanations of the development of water law and the property theory constructs that have developed around it.

Associated Products

Water Law in British-ruled Palestine (Article)
Title: Water Law in British-ruled Palestine
Author: David Schorr
Abstract: This article surveys the water law of Palestine under British rule, identifying the legal norms governing the use of water and explaining some of the factors shaping the development of this area of the law. It argues that despite their lack of official lawmaking power, Arabs and Jews succeeded in decisively shaping the course taken by water law in this period. After surveying the Ottoman water law in force when the British took power in 1917, the article examines influential court decisions in a case brought by the Arab residents of the village Artas against government expropriation of water, and explains the significance of this litigation for the subsequent development of Palestine’s water law. It then discusses British initiatives meant to reform water law and subject the country’s water to state control, plans frustrated by the opposition of Zionist groups fearful of increased government regulation. It closes by noting that water law was made in this colonial context neither by imposition from above nor by resistance from below, but by intervention of subject peoples at the highest levels of official lawmaking.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Water History, September 2014, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 247-263
Access Model: Subscription
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Water History
Publisher: Springer