Entanglements of space and time in mining territories of Northern Chile. Theoretical and methodological approaches in the study of water conflicts under the nitrate mining cycle (1853-1925)

Authors: Manuel Mendez*, Université de Rennes 2
Topics: Historical Geography, Political Geography, Latin America
Keywords: Territorial genealogy, Tarapaca District, Northern Chile, water conflicts
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Virginia B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Mining territories, particularly territorial conflicts related to extractives activities, became one of the principal research interests for the Chilean geography over the last two decades. Studies conducted under a Political Ecology standpoint has focused in the understanding of socioterritorial effects of the neoliberal laws imposed under Pinochet’s dictatorship (starting in 1973). In this context, this paper proposes a geo-historical approach in order to understand the territorial genealogy of the Tarapacá District of Northern Chile. Using different official documents (local reports/decrees and national laws), scientific discourses (historical maps, papers and travel notebooks) and press review (newspapers and magazines) of the 19th and early 20th centuries, we have reconstituted the different trajectories of meanings and materiality of water that carried out to conflict.
Through the analysis of the results of this research, especially multi-stakeholders meanings framework and multitemporal cartographies, this paper presents the strategies and procedures to classify and analyse historical data compilated in several historical archives of Chile, England and France, as well as terrains data collected in three visits to Tarapacá nitrate mines. In methodological terms, we argue that spatial and discursive analysis of historical information are key factors in the development of territorial genealogy perspective (Peluso and Vandergeest, 2001; Braun, 2000, Elden, 2010).

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