The Governance of the Nature-Culture Nexus: Lessons Learned from the San Pedro de Atacama Case Study

in Nature and Culture
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ABSTRACT

Focusing on the governance of San Pedro de Atacama, a desert region located in the north of Chile, this article discusses the concern in ecology and social science to restore the unity between nature and culture as a lever to governance in social-ecological systems. It examines contemporary governance dynamics of this large desert and mountain area by means of a theoretical framework combining contributions from three fields: socio-ecological systems, political ecology, and diversity approaches in anthropology and cultural studies. It reveals the multi-scalar, multicultural complexity of these dynamics involving local communities, the mining industries, nature protection agencies, environmental movements as well as protagonists of neoliberal economic policy. It concludes that in San Pedro de Atacama hybrid governance institutions have emerged that offer real yet fragile development opportunities for the native population.

Contributor Notes

Constanza Parra is an assistant professor at the Division of Geography and Tourism, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, at the University of Leuven, Belgium. She is an environmental social scientist with interdisciplinary interests in the ways societies relate to the natural environment and deal with contemporary sustainability challenges. Her research focuses on social sustainability, social innovation, nature-culture nexus in socio-ecological systems, and multi-level governance of protected areas. Address: Division of Geography and Tourism, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven—University of Leuven. Celestijnenlaan 200e, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium. E-mail: constanza.parra@ees.kuleuven.be.

Frank Moulaert is professor of spatial planning, head of the Planning and Development Unit at ASRO, and chairman of the Leuven Research Centre on Space and Society, Faculty of Engineering, KU Leuven, Belgium. His research covers urban and regional development, social science theories and methods, especially social innovation and governance of socio-ecological systems. Address: Planning and Development Unit, KU Leuven—University of Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 51, Bus 2429, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium. E-mail: frank.moulaert@asro.kuleuven.be.

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