At the End of a Cycle of Environmental Protest in Latin America? Toward a Research Agenda on Outcomes and Consequences

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 09:10
Oral Presentation
Ana VARA, National University of San Martin, Argentina
Diego HURTADO, National University of San Martin, Argentina
Since the end of the 1990s, and partially as a consequence of the structural reforms, the commodification of natural resources and the transnationalization of different sectors of the economy, Latin America is going through a cycle of environmental protest. There have been protests against the introduction of genetically modified crops (and the coincidental process of agriculturization and increasing use of agrochemicals), against different kinds of mining, against different facilities (electric and gas lines, hazardous and non-hazardous waste deposits, cell phone antennas), against risky industries (pulp and paper, petrochemical), against gas and oil extraction (especially, but not limited to, against fracking techniques). Social scientists have analyzed these protests from different perspectives and with different methodologies. In this presentation, we intend to go one step further and explore different approaches to answer some key questions. Is this cycle of environmental protest at an end? What would be the indicators we should look at to make such diagnosis? What could be the reasons behind the demobilization? What are the aspects we should focus on in terms of understanding the outcomes and consequences? From our own empirical research and from a review of the literature, some preliminary observations could be: i) the institutional response has been heterogeneous, thus the demobilization could be a consequence of exhaustion, institutionalization, cooptation, or repression in different territories in the region; ii) specialization of different territories: countries (and jurisdictions within countries) with more/less mining, more/less agriculture, more/less industrial facilities after this period; iii) learning by different social actors; iv) legal and normative changes: higher regulation in certain areas/activities, new public consultation norms and practices, new repressive norms and practices; v) new views on science and technology, and on the role of scientists on technical controversies; vi) process of stigmatization of certain economic activities, and of protest and protesters.