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University College London (2019)

Hydrosocial territories in the Atacama Desert : An ethnographic analysis of changing water practices in Toconao, Chile

Olmos Herrera, Cristian Fernando

Titre : Hydrosocial territories in the Atacama Desert : An ethnographic analysis of changing water practices in Toconao, Chile

Auteur : Olmos Herrera, Cristian Fernando

Université de soutenance : University College London

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2019

Résumé
Water shapes the territory and people’s lives through its flows, generating conflicts and harmony on its path. The flows of water frame the spatial configuration and are a fundamental element of the interaction between people, social institutions and their environment. Water is also an essential component of solidarity in the local culture and traditions of rural communities in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. This study analysed an indigenous community, where a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme of a mining company resulted in spatial and social changes of water practices. The research is based on the perspective of political ecology and followed an ethnographic approach to provide an in-depth understanding of the relations between the company’s interventions and the hydrosocial territory. To achieve this, the research investigated changes in water management in the case of a CSR programme called Atacama Tierra Fértil (ATF), which was implemented in the Indigenous Community of Toconao in northern Chile. The analysis of the daily use of water resources revealed how multiple interests within the community in response to the CSR programme transformed the landscape and at the same time shaped the social development of the area. Personal interests, a commodification of natural resources and the control over the territory have reconfigured spaces of decision-making and social relations. The nuanced analysis of changes in the hydrosocial territory suggests that CSR programmes from the mining sector contribute to tensions, which are manifest in decreasing solidarity, cooperation, respect, and local autonomy within the community and its institutions.

Présentation

Page publiée le 4 décembre 2019