Neoextractivism in hydrosocial territories: resistance and defense of the Páramo of Kimsakocha, Ecuador
Denisse Elizabeth Rodriguez Quinonez (University of Melbourne)
Paper short abstract:
The paper focus on ongoing contestation of a mining project proposed in the páramo of Kimsakocha. It argues that community resistance is encouraged by the material, symbolical and emotional engagements between communities and the hydrosocial territory, mostly disregarded in environmental governance
Paper long abstract:
This paper aims at exploring what does impending resource extraction mean to people engaged with nature in their everyday lives. Water, society and territory are co-produced generating certain socionatural configurations, known as hydrosocial territories. Conflicts emerge when new actors attempt to reconfigure those socionatures, based on conflicting meanings and understandings of the interplays that configure them. In this sense, disputes and resistance have emerged to the Loma Larga mining project located in the southern Ecuadorian highlands. It is owned by the Canadian company INV Metals and its exploitation is currently being negotiated with the government. Local communities participate in water management and their livelihoods are sustained by the páramo (high Andean wetlands ecosystem) of Kimsakocha. They fear the degradation of the ecosystem and its impacts in their own survival. Communities find themselves contesting the State, as the main advocate of mining as an engine for development, as well as corporate interests. The paper is based on ethnographic research conducted in Ecuador in 2016. It proposes an understanding of socioecological conflicts through a combination of political ecology and emotional geographies. It is argued that resistance to the mining project and further critique of the deepening of natural resource extraction are encouraged by the material, symbolical and emotional engagements between communities and their socionatural spaces, which are mostly disregarded in environmental governance.
Hydroscapes and hydrosocial states: culture and the political ecology of water governance