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Constanza Parra and Frank Moulaert

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.