While issues of racial and gendered discrimination are more visible and widely discussed, poverty and water based discrimination is often a silent fact of life for the many. As one of the most critical elemental resources required for the sustainability of human life, safe water has been designated a human right, but the current global distribution of water does not mirror this sentiment. The divide in quality water distribution provokes the question: whose life is intrinsically valued? This study seeks to determine the status of personhood as displayed by the movement of water in relation to the underprivileged. I first construct the working concepts of personhood, through the framework of Martin Buber’s I-Thou and I-It paradigm, and poverty, through an analysis of results from two national surveys. Once the key terms have been defined, the threats of water privatization, water pollution, and water theft are analyzed on an international level to highlight the reach and severity of this issue. My analysis supported the claim that the lives of the poor are not seen as possessing intrinsic value and, therefore, are not granted the ability to pursue their interests through personhood. Though this problem may seem to effect only a limited group, my research showcased the implicit connection between all lives, reflecting the struggle of the waterless onto those with abundant supply.
Powell, Kierra M.
"Thou and It: Personhood Actualized Through Water Rights,"
Oglethorpe Journal of Undergraduate Research:
1, Article 1.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/ojur/vol6/iss1/1