Pulp Friction: Nature, Politics and Plantation Forestry in Soriano, Uruguay
Switzer, Michelle Barbara
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Based on 14 months of fieldwork carried out in the capital of Montevideo and interior department of Soriano, Uruguay, this dissertation analyzes the growing tension between supporters and resisters of the countrys expanding pulp and exotic tree plantation industry. Since the creation of the Forestry Law in 1987, monoculture plantation forestry has grown, currently covering 1 million hectares of land. The ruling left-wing coalition, the Frente Amplio, has continued to support the large-scale, foreign-owned pulp/plantation industry despite its founding principles of carrying out agrarian reform and supporting the rural worker. Drawing from the theoretical work on boundary objects in science and technology studies (STS) as well as writings on the dialectical relationship between the state and civil society, this dissertation is broadly framed by three thematic concerns: 1) How do processes of state formation and market logics rearrange the natural environment? 2) How do such processes impact the relationships between local populations, their physical environment, and the state? 3) What does neo-extractivism do? Is neo-extractivism under the direction of a progressive state different from the kinds of extractivist projects that dominated in Latin America during the 20th century? Exploring how and why local populations respond to these entanglements in the ways that they do, I note that anti-industry activists make logical arguments based on their particular interpretations of economic development, natural production, and progressive politics, which clash with the states technical and reformed approach. As such, my research contributes to our understanding of the ways that social and political relationships and state formation projects form within in the context of large-scale neo-extractivist projects.