?Reiterating Foucault’s notion of power as ?
?, power should not be portrayed as a negative force, as a source of oppression, imposition or restriction, as nothing more than that « what says no » (Foucault, 1980: 139). ?Power can also be productive in that it generates new ways of behaving and acting. In this regard, Foucault states « there are no relations of power without resistances; the latter are all the more real and effective because they are formed right at the point where relations of power are exercised » (ibid: 142). Emblematic of this contestation of power are villagers’ daily interactions with water as manifested in the home and garden.
The continual uncanny
?In Azraq, the fading waters and consequent advancing desert instigated a gradual confinement of water usage to the domestic sphere, i.e. the house and its adjacent garden. ?The domestic sphere thus presents itself as an ideal place to examine how the described relations between the government and its subjects in Azraq unfold and are constantly invoked through the use of water in everyday life. This is especially so because the supply of water at the household level in Azraq is now entirely administered by the central government and is thus fundamentally « based upon the existence of a set of networks of, and connections to, things and social power relations that exist outside the domestic sphere » (Kaika, op. cit.: 275).
As an artefact of modernity, these social and material networks are usually hidden and rendered invisible such that the dweller obtains an illusion of autonomy and independence. Indeed, in their research on domesticated water, both Strang (op. cit.) and Kaika (op. cit.) emphasize that having water flowing from the tap without temporal, spatial and quantitative limits has obtained a fundamentally normalised character in people’s minds and has nourished a deceptive sense of disconnection between what constitutes the « inside » and the « outside ». However, as both authors also point out, this illusion of an independently functioning household is brutally shattered once the water fails to flow. It is what Kaika, paraphrasing Freud, refers to as « the uncanny » (ibid.: 276?277): the moment a dweller is confronted with the power relations that connect his home to wider socio?economic constellations and that, when they fail to function, render the accustomed unpredictable.
Until two decades ago, water in Azraq was supplied to the houses on a round-the-clock basis, but since then it has only been delivered at regular intervals of four days a week. Every Sunday to Wednesday the valve that regulates the domestic water supply in Azraq is left open by the WAJ. It is a regulation closely observed by many inhabitants, especially during summer when water usage peaks and every failure by WAJ to deliver water is deeply felt. Yet, failures to supply water – be it because of technical problems, theft of electricity cables, defective motor pumps or political pressure from Amman – are frequent. Although ruptures in the delivery of water are always most unwelcome, they are never unexpected or unaccounted for: in Azraq « the uncanny » is continual. Contrary to the Western world described by Kaika and Strang where water is expected to flow constantly and therefore « any sudden halt to the supply seems counterintuitive and rather shocking » (Strang, op. cit.: 197), « uncanny » moments in Azraq are foremost another confrontational confirmation of the particular power relations that have come to condition daily habits.
Moreover, it reveals the extreme porosity between the domain of the intimate household and that of the government – two spheres usually regarded as somehow separate. Unlike past experiences, people’s daily household tasks are predicated upon the availability of water provided by the government. Especially women jokingly state that their « holiday » begins the day the water stops flowing as washing, cleaning and gardening activities are put on hold or at a low level until the water arrives again. In this way, the government has become increasingly entrenched in everyday life.
Controlling power inside the house
?The constant uncertainty about water delivery described in the previous section has raised many villagers’ vigilance: they have come to keep a close account and record of the days when water is to come, the days it has failed to come, for how many days this has been the case, when this last happened, the reasons for non-delivery, the government’s (in)actions to prevent it and so on. ?Clearly, the awareness that the water might not be supplied in due time has prompted people to keep meticulous track of the water’s every movement. From Sunday to Wednesday during summer, one of the first tasks an 80?year-old elderly Druze hostess performs is opening her garden valve to assure that the promised water was flowing. It is an act undertaken by many inhabitants since almost all households in Azraq have at least one valve (outdoors and/or indoors) connected directly to the main WAJ pipeline. Contrary to the tap that is supplied from the roof tank which serves as a buffer for the days without water, this valve only allows water use during the four days a week that WAJ supplies water. Yet, people prefer using this valve, which is directly connected to the main pipeline in order to save the water in their roof tanks for the non?supply days 
?Moreover, the temperature of the water from.... Along with the actual supply of water, the water pressure, which depends on the pressure in the pipelines and fluctuates from day to day, is equally monitored.
This gathered information is not kept to oneself but is widely shared and discussed with others through informal chats that form an important part of the daily interactions between people and that serve as a means to compare and confirm one’s experience with the water supply. Even until late in the afternoon or evening, encounters include discussions about the supply of water. Undeniably, water constantly flows through everyday conversations: daily water chats are as common as the more universal daily weather chats. These conversations aim to gain knowledge about the government’s water distribution, to look for consenting opinions and to share information about others’ problems and behaviours. Exemplary of this is the round of questions about showering behaviours at an evening family gathering during which the host repeatedly alerted his guests to the consequences of his empty roof tank: no toilet flushing and no hand washing afterwards unless one uses bottled water. This repetitive warning caused questions to circulate round the family in order to find out individual water usage and more particularly individual showering frequencies. At the end it had not only become clear what was considered to be extreme or average showering behaviours but it had also been reiterated that having a roof tank imposed limits to one’s shower habits and what these limits were. It is indicative of the « calculative rationality » to which villagers have come to subject their daily water use (Von Schnitzler, op. cit.).
This tracking, calculating and talking about the water and the material networks through which it flows are foremost directed at obtaining and maintaining knowledge over the government and its handling of the water. This not only includes the supply flow but also that of the disposal: water flows circularly. Some interviewees understood this very well as they expressed their growing concerns and frustrations over the government’s handling of the wastewater. A middle-aged Druze woman explained that the lack of septic tanks or a central wastewater treatment facility has adverse effects on the quality of the groundwater – the same groundwater from which the WAJ pumps.
The fact that so many inhabitants have a striking ability to map the networks through which their water circulates, attests to their urge to understand the governmental water supply on which they now depend. While the acts of monitoring and compiling information about the government’s water policies and procedures holds no prospect of directly changing power relations, it nevertheless provides them with a sense of exercising power by controlling what has come to control them. The villagers’ repetitive performances of monitoring the WAJ are testimony to the unequal power relations embedded in the water supply yet it is precisely through these practices that this inequality is questioned. Through these recurring material and discursive performances of control one obtains knowledge, a kind of knowledge that grants the power to challenge the government’s responsibility, eligibility and accountability as water supplier. Indeed, if the WAJ fails to supply adequately, the inhabitants inform those responsible at WAJ or take their frustrations to the mudîr al qada’ (an employee of the Ministry of Interior who can hold WAJ accountable). Moreover, having been made to live in a socio-ecological configuration not of their own choosing, the villagers search for political opportunities that might garner more influence in water decisions thereby adapting to new political realities of bureaucracy and government. Recent evidence of this is the locals’ petition for an upgrade of Azraq’s administrative level so as to become an electoral district, which will allow them to send a representative to parliament and will, the villagers believe, not only make their discontent heard but could also lead to changes in their precarious water situation. Furthermore, most recently a petition containing six hundred signatures (Druze, Chechen and Bedouin alike) was sent out calling for the re-instalment of a retired local employee at WAJ’s office in Azraq. His position – taken over in 2008 by a resident of Zarqa, Jordan’s second largest city and a beneficiary of Azraq’s water – consisted of managing the distribution of the domestic water supply. It thus represents a crucial position within the decision making process where, although bound politically and materially with little space to manœuvre, individual decisions on distribution patterns can be – and have been – made based on a profoundly local perception of the inhabitants’ needs and concerns with regards to domestic water supply.
It is clear from the observed group of Azraq’s local inhabitants that they do not simply conform to their dependency on the government as constituted through water. Their daily repetitive acts and behaviour, no matter how nuanced the defiance, question the power relations imbedded in water.
The gardens of Azraq
?The WAJ, in compliance with the policies of the central government, regards potable water as its chief priority, after which come domestic and municipal water, water for industrial use, water for agricultural purposes and, currently rather undefined, water for environmental uses (Haddadin, ?
?). ?Implicitly, the governmental bodies involved in water management understand domestic water use as water used inside the house for bathing, washing, cooking and other essential human activities. However, individuals interviewed understand the domestic sphere to consist of more than just the house, for them it also includes the « semi?external space » (Strang, op. cit.: 207) of the garden.
Gardens in Azraq have a particular geographical and historical configuration. Prior to the drying of the oasis, the Chechens living in South-Azraq had « spacious gardens, beautiful in a wild, informal way, with vines, date palms, eucalyptus, tamarix and pomegranates » (Nelson, op. cit.: 60). This resulted not only from the village’s proximity to the marshes but also because of the fertile soil. By contrast, in Azraq Druze, established at some distance from the oasis, gardens surrounding private homes were rare prior to the arrival of plumbing and free water delivery at the end of the 1960s. This was due to the exceeding amount of time and energy needed to transport water for irrigating the garden and the less fertile basalt ground on which the village is built. Nowadays, gardens in both villages are increasingly rare as water is not only absent from the marshes but is also charged for. Nevertheless, some green spaces persist and plans for new gardens are never far away.
Gardens – today usually consisting of vegetables, herbs, vines, dates, fruit trees, palm trees and, to a lesser degree, flowers – are important to the villagers, foremost because they remain the sole outside spaces for production, where people can exert a particular form of creative agency in their lives and directly engage with the environment when all other options 
?Apart from farming which constitutes a whole... to do so have vanished with the water. In this sense, the villagers’ gardens are not so much an expression of control over nature as an act of (re)gaining control over one’s own life. To garden is to be productive. One male Druze inhabitant from North Azraq commented on the absence of gardens stating that:
The families now have to rely more on the market but if they have a garden in which to plant vegetables and fruits, they could live from their gardens.
Indeed, villagers’ willingness to have their own garden is deeply related to the fact that it raises their ability to meet their needs and thereby decreases their dependency on the market. The disappearance of the oasis by the early 1990s led to a decline in the presence of many of the wild plants that locals once harvested, especially along the fertile beds of the wadis (valleys) and along the banks of the fecund oasis. Several interviewees, predominantly Druze women, explained that much of the plant life that once existed was gathered and used as the basis of their diet. While some wild plants and herbs can still be found and are gathered, overall the practice of plant gathering has faded along with the oasis. In light of this, having a garden creates one’s own productive oasis in which vegetables and herbs can be grown.
Importantly, gardens are rarely watered from the roof tank, which makes the four days that water runs unabatedly from the WAJ pipeline all the more essential. This then constitutes another reason for people to complain about ruptures in the water supply, especially in summer when temperatures rise and the consequent need for water all the more pressing. Some people therefore strategize against these time regulations by storing water for the days it does not arrive (cf. fig. 2).
?Figure 2. Bottled water from the Waig pipeline?
Photograph: Sylvie Janssens
?However, the waters used by the villagers for creating and maintaining a garden runs counter to WAJ’s rationality of water as a purely natural resource void of social relations. ?For WAJ officials, the gardens in Azraq merely embody the useless waste of a precious, scarce natural resource transported through costly infrastructure. As one WAJ official expressed:
They (the people in Azraq) use water not only for domestic but they use it parallel to irrigate the gardens around the house. This is why I think we need to minimize that, this is costly for us: we are paying for electricity, pumping, replacement, for maintenance.
Whereas for the villagers the water running through the gardens represents the ability to exercise personal agency and to regain a sense of control over their lives, for the WAJ, it expresses a « contraflow » that they are unable to direct or control (Strang, op. cit.).