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Title: The political ecology of Ecuadorian environmentalism : buen vivir, nature and territory
Author: Moreano Venegas, Melissa Eugenia
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 1158
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis examines the notions of buen vivir, the rights of nature (pachamama) and territory in Ecuadorian environmentalism, a country where the institutionalisation of the terms appeared as a political opportunity to construct a decolonial future that is based precisely in a reconfiguration of the nature/human relationship that might include the communitarian form of life depicted by the collective territory. To which extent those newly ideas help or hinder to construct alternatives to green capitalism is the key interest of this research. The theoretical framework combines the ample field of political ecology with critical geography. The empirical research included in-depth interviews, documentary revision and participant observation at three research foci: state-related environmental activity, non-governmental environmental action and local community-based ecologism – that, in aggregate, comprise Ecuadorian environmentalism. The three empirical chapters of this thesis address each one of those research foci (Chapters 5-7). Chapter 5 tackles the Programa Socio Bosque, a governmental program of payment for conservation that contributes to transform buen vivir and the rights of nature into a renewed sustainable development. For that, the program maintains the human/nature divide and contributes to the territorial ordering that allows the production of nature for the capitalist market. Chapter 6 analyses extensively the diverse actors of non-governmental environmental organizations, revealing that for mainstream environmentalists, buen vivir and the rights of nature are a version of sustainable development, while critical ecologists fail to formulate a political alternative, as there is a dominance of the anti-extractivist discourse and a tendency towards essentialism of the indigenous world. However, indigenous comprehensions of socionatures and territory contained in the proposals for forest conservation of some indigenous organizations propound an alternative to stateled green capitalism. Chapter 7 discusses place-based environmentalism of the indigenous Tola Chica community. A close look to the vital experience of the community revealed how buen vivir and pachamama are connected to territory. The collective production of territory and nature is then highlighted in order to frame a more creative response to green capitalism. The final chapter will conclude the main findings of this PhD and set possible lines of future investigation on the topic. In doing that, the research aims to contribute to a Latin American political ecology that draws upon decolonial studies, via an in-depth case study and social movements’ experience.
Supervisor: Bryant, Raymond Leslie ; academic, affiliated ; Pelling, Mark Adam ; Loftus, Alexander John ; Maclean, Kate Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available