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Dissertation Defense for Rowenn Beth Kalman
May 10, 2017 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
‘Conciencia’ for Conservation: Andean Indigeneity, Economic Rationalism, Technical Science and the Production of Diverse Subjectivities through Rural Stewardship in Ancash, Peru
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Time: 11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
Location: Room 454 Baker Hall
Student: Rowenn Beth Kalman
In the region of Ancash, Peru, rural villagers, NGO staff, state workers, and mine engineers all argue that environmental conciencia (consciousness) is crucial for protecting natural resources from pollution and overuse. However, they draw on different discourses of Andean indigeneity, economic rationalism, and technical science to define what constitutes effective stewardship and who has authority over nature. The NGO Urpichallay trains campesinos (peasant farmers) to be “environmental promoters” who monitor pollution and embrace ancestral (indigenous Andean) views of nature as they coordinate among mine companies, state authorities, and their fellow villagers. This training reflects an attempt to create “environmental subjects”: those who view the stewardship of nature as necessary for resource preservation (Agrawal 2006). But the NGO’s approach implies that differently situated subjects decide to defend nature for different reasons. The existing literature on decentralized environmental governance suggests that community stewardship initiatives lead marginal resource users into deeper compliance with a singular, state-sanctioned logic. In contrast, this dissertation argues that community stewardship produces more complex outcomes: actors draw on multiple discourses of conciencia in order to dispute both state-sanctioned and private sector authority by articulating competing ideas of environmental management. Further, existing scholarship on environmental subjectivity does not consider how other dimensions of subjectivity are engaged and reconstructed through processes of cultivating environmental subjects. In my case study, actors continuously re-situate themselves in different ways with respect indigeneity, gender, scientific knowledge, and economic opportunities in relation to their own priorities. However, some resource users (including less educated rural women) have been less able to participate in debates around conciencia, even though they are symbolically central to Indigenous Andean constructions of it. This dissertation thus argues for a new scholarly approach to subjectivity and environmental governance through the analysis of the broader context of competing discourses and multifaceted identities that lead rural stewards to engage in diverse, strategic, and sometimes ambivalent ways.