Master in Social Sciences Paz María

134600 €

Avocado Extractivism: Designing worlds to resist maldevelopment. The case of water grabbing and avocados in Central Chile.

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Nelivuotinen

This research project inquiries into the Chilean extractivist development model by focusing on the case of water grabbing for avocado plantations. I will continue where I ended my master’s thesis to research the extractivist nature of avocado agribusiness. I will investigate the role that the commoditization of water and the Chilean development policies have had on the creation of eco-social “vulnerabilities” (Nygren 2021) currently affecting humans and other-than-humans in Central Chile. I will examine how imposed imaginaries of development have created ideas and practices on land, water commoditization, monocultures, distribution of production, and profits. I plan to examine resistances, and the creation of alternatives that contest monoculture avocado plantations and the neoliberal framework that exacerbates eco-social inequalities in the area. I intend to unravel how different ontologies of water emerge, interact, intersect, and contest each other in this context. By analyzing different ontologies of water, I will problematize water governance and the eco-social grievances experienced by humans and other-than-humans (Stensrud 2016). I intend to give special attention to eco-feminist and decolonizing perspectives. This research draws from current political ecology and political ontology debates on extractivism to explain what kind, how, and why avocado production has created a socio-ecological ordeal altering extended areas in Central Chile. The research questions that will inform this research are: What has the avocado agribusiness done in Chile? Why has the expansion of avocado plantations been promoted as development? How small communities and resistances are impacting the avocado agribusiness? Data collection will consist of archival research, qualitative interview data, and ethnographic participant observations. Finally, the data will be subject to a thematic analysis, and published in a monograph dissertation.