"La Guerra de Agua": Notions of Morality, Respectability, and Community in a Madrid Neighborhood.

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This article is part of a larger work in progress that tells the story of Orcasitas—fifteen hundred shacks built by immigrants during the 1950s on the southern outskirts of central Madrid. Without any electricity, running water, paved roads, or health or education centers, this section of the city was for many years the embodiment of urban alienation. Yet, Orcasitas is also a success story of a shantytown that has turned into a residential neighborhood through the efforts of its inhabitants. For more than twenty years, the dwellers of Orcasitas struggled, against the backdrop of a weakening dictatorship and then within a new democracy, to obtain proper infrastructure, health and education facilities, and apartments to replace their shacks. This article looks at one aspect of this process: the struggle to obtain running water and sanitation services and the way this struggle shaped and was shaped by the inhabitants' perceptions of morality, respectability, and community life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-235
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Urban History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Sanitation
  • Squatter settlements
  • Sanitary engineering
  • Water-supply engineering
  • Community life
  • Social movements
  • Madrid (Spain)
  • Spain
  • Franco Regime
  • Shantytowns
  • social movements


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