Hydrosocial Flow: Climate change and community relations in Chile’s mining regions

Authors: Scott Odell*, Clark University
Topics: Development, Latin America, Natural Resources
Keywords: Mining, Climate change, Water, Community relations, Hydrosocial cycle, Development, Latin America, Chile
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


The broad purpose of this dissertation project is to examine the intersecting impacts of climate change and mining on vulnerable communities and the effects of efforts to address them. Within this topic, the project specifically analyzes how technology such as desalination, as well as cooperation between communities, mining companies, and governments affect conflict over water in three mining sites in Chile. Drawing on hydrosocial theory from within the political ecology tradition, the project asserts that relations over water must consider both the physical properties of the resource and the political systems that affect it. The dissertation argues that unless investments in the source of a hydrosocial conflict are abandoned altogether, existing efforts by hydrosocial stakeholders to address conflict generally result in a shifting of the source of conflict to other, more vulnerable sites. Whether and how sources of conflict are moved depends upon both physical geographical factors and diverse relations of power. This concept of “hydrosocial flow” thus predicts that sources of conflict tend to move physically downstream, and from more powerful to less powerful communities. The dissertation indicates the need for stakeholders in hydrosocial conflict to build inter-community relations in order to take a more expansive view of the hydrosocial impacts of mining operations.

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