Department of Global Development Studies

DEPARTMENT OF

Global Development Studies

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  Javiera Barandiaran

Knowledge, power and natural resources: 
Reflections from Chile

Date: Friday October 12, 2018
Venue: Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room D216
Time: 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Speaker: Dr. Javiera Barandiaran, Department of Global Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Abstract

Chile presents a seemingly peculiar case of a modern state that at the turn of the twenty-first century does not see a need to invest in science nor cultivate scientific advice as a strategic ally of the state. Chile has not invested in environmental science labs, state agencies with in-house capacities, or an ancillary network of trusted scientific advisers—despite the growing complexity of environmental problems and increasing popular demand for more active environmental stewardship. The first part of this talk will explain how this mode of governance works (as a market for science), reflecting neoliberal influences which favor market mechanisms over the actions of state agencies. The consequences for regulation and trust in state agencies will be illustrated with the case of salmon farming: in 2008 Chile’s salmon farms (the world’s second most productive) suffered a devastating epidemic that state agencies struggled to control. The second part of the talk will explore the history of this market-based mode of governance and its consequences for lithium mining and development imaginaries. Chile, along with Argentina and Bolivia, host 80% of global deposits of this material that may be crucial to reducing fossil fuel use. How to use lithium and lithium-science for development is highly contested. Understanding Chile’s knowledge politics sheds new light on environmental regulation, natural resource management and democratic governance.