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

Olmos Herrera, Cristian Fernando; (2019) Hydrosocial territories in the Atacama Desert: An ethnographic analysis of changing water practices in Toconao, Chile. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

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.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Hydrosocial territories in the Atacama Desert: An ethnographic analysis of changing water practices in Toconao, Chile
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: Water, Atacama Desert, Hydrosocial territories, Chile
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Development Planning Unit
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10074956
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