Technical vs. Grassroots Experts in Global Water and Forests Governance

Technical vs. Grassroots Experts in Global Water and Forests Governance

BY EMILIE DUPUITS

Since the 2000s, facing the increasing globalization and commodification of common-pool resources, community-based organizations managing water and forests at the local level started to create transnational networks. Their main goal is to get direct representation in global governance arenas and to transform languages of expertise around governance norms and the scales at which they operate. The international involvement of grassroots organizations raises several interrogations: who are grassroots experts and to what extent are they different from technical experts dominating international arenas? At what scale and in what field is grassroots expertise constructed as legitimate? Finally, is transnational grassroots expertise based on a harmonization or a diversification of knowledge and practices?

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Traditional development or vivir bien? An analysis of the Bolivian ‘Gas War’ in 2003

Traditional development or vivir bien? An analysis of the Bolivian ‘Gas War’ in 2003

By Sue Iamamoto

Since Evo Morales’ arrival to the Palacio Quemado and the nomination of David Choquehuanca as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bolivian international policy has been marked by a rhetoric of environmentalism, defence of indigenous rights and cosmovisions, and the promotion of vivir bien (good living) as a new paradigm of development.This piece investigates the narratives that the actors of the mobilisations in 2003 — both in the urban context, in the city of El Alto, and in the countryside, in the province of Omasuyos — have enacted to explain their struggle. What sort of perspective(s) on development do they express in their accounts? How much of them can actually be related to a vivir bien formulation, which emphasises the importance of living in harmony with nature and with the community? By investigating these issues in people’s actual perception of their struggle, this piece attempts to cast light on processes that mediate between the empirical and the normative dimensions of development.

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INGOs in Haiti: Development Actors as agents for Alternatives to Development?

INGOs in Haiti: Development Actors as agents for Alternatives to Development?

By Julia Schöneberg

NGOs, particularly those seeking to imagine and practice alternatives, are confronted with the pitfalls of this aspiration and the reality of being a part of the structured mainstream development apparatus. Very little practical research has been conducted so far, both about the consequences for their work, as well as conflicts within Post-Development theory itself.  Indeed, although Post-Development has been discussed extensively on a theoretical level and been criticized for lacking propositions of concrete and constructive alternatives, spaces for a practical Post-Development implementation have yet to be explored. In this discussion I thus aim to investigate what practical contribution Post-Development has to offer for progressive development work. For this reason, the focus is laid on partnerships and cooperation between Haitian and international NGOs. 

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Women in Defense of Mother Earth

Women in Defense of Mother Earth

By Areli Valencia

"Women in Defense of Mother Earth" is a documentary film about the life of a group of peasant women fighting against two mining projects known as Rio Blanco and Quimsacocha (Loma Larga) in Cuenca, Azuay,  Ecuador. Driven by the defense of their livelihoods, sources of subsistence and the ability to choose their own pathways to development, they communally decided to organize themselves as the "Women Defenders of Mother Earth Front", one of the most important women anti-mining  organizations in Ecuador. In a world where the lack of female leadership is omnipresent, the struggle of the "Women Defenders of Mother Earth Front" not only stimulates discussion on the impacts of extractive led-development in the lives of women; but also, helps to make visible the important role of women as agents of social change.

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Sustainability: Design for the Pluriverse

Sustainability: Design for the Pluriverse

By Arturo Escobar

In ‘Sustainability: Design for the pluriverse’ Escobar brings together contemporary discussions of Transition Discourses - that is, discourses that argue for radical cultural and institutional transformations in ‘a transition to an altogether different world’. As discussed by Enrique Leff in our previous post, Escobar signals how these discourses have been emerging with particular strength in environmental and sustainability discussions in recent years. To Escobar, however, they highlight the necessity to overcome the modern ontology that ‘presumes the existence of One World – a universe’ and expand on the multiplicity of worlds possible. Rather than restricting the possibilities of re-thinking our debate on sustainability, Escobar emphasizes ‘the profound relationality of all life, these newer tendencies show that there are indeed relational worldviews or ontologies for which the world is always multiple – a pluriverse.’ His calls to open and re-imagine our discussions in this pluriversal understanding of sustainability are an inspirational contribution for Alternautas that we are happy to share with you as the opening post of 2015.

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Human Rights Indicators as “Development 2.0”?

Human Rights Indicators as “Development 2.0”?

By Johannes Waldmüller

Are there currently more alternative projects of and to development ongoing in the Latin American region? Others than, for example, Buen Vivir (Ecuador)/Vivir Bien (Bolivia), self-governance, participatory budgeting and a general political rupture through the appearance of, what de la Cadena has called, “Earth-beings” (2010)? In this article, I trace another legal-technical, yet humanist, approach to improve people lives in the region; one that has been termed as 'Development 2.0'. This label points at the fusion of two overlapping, yet partly contradicting businesses and movements: social and econ sciences-related development, on the one hand, and legal and technical human rights, on the other (de Béco, 2014). While for a long time both were promoted somehow separately – by different actors and through different institutions (what de Béco has characterized as rather strictly ‘norm-related’ in the case of human rights and more flexible ‘change-related’ in the case of development) – recent advances and ongoing debates regards post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) have spurred initiatives toward mutually more integral approaches (e.g. Raza and Baxewanos, 2013). 

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Wellbeing in the Margins: Notes on a New Conceptual Cartography

Wellbeing in the Margins: Notes on a New Conceptual Cartography

By Juan Jaime Loera Gonzalez

Wellbeing is becoming an emerging concept representing a new paradigm that might help orient development policies.  I believe indigenous people and social movements in Latin America are providing the case to rethink this debate in new light. I will explore how the Rarámuri people, like other minority groups living in the margins of nation-states and global markets, are constrained to act strategically to face political and socio-economic exclusion fluctuating between the tension of having the right to live differently and the need to be part of the larger society. Specifically, I want to explore how these wellbeing notions can be better understood if we consider the idea of the margins, as a conceptual space and as a place where notions (such as wellbeing) are created, configured and reconfigured by the articulations of forces that interact in dynamic and complex ways.

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"Churcar" Alternatives to Development

"Churcar" Alternatives to Development

By Eduardo Gudynas

Translated by Julien Vanhulst and Ana Estefanía Carballo

As  ideas  about  development  are  so  deeply  rooted,  attempts  to  seek  alternatives are  almost  like  swimming  against  the  prevailing  cultural  current.  To  effectively pursue these alternatives, radical changes are necessary from the source. Instead of quoting Marx or Lenin, I consider more appropriate to draw  inspiration from an old word of the Tacanas in Bolivia: “Churcar”.

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Buen Vivir, Sumak Kawsay, 'Good Living': An Introduction and Overview

Buen Vivir, Sumak Kawsay, 'Good Living': An Introduction and Overview

By Johannes Waldmüller

This overview and introduction to Buen Vivir and/or Sumak Kawsay refers to the context and discussion in Ecuador. It differentiates between Buen Vivir and Sumak Kawsay as well as between (at least) three main types of this vast field of discourses and practices: (1) a state-led program for the 'socialism of the 21st century"; (2) a post-modern utopian and intellectual project, drawing on indigenous Andean values; and (3) an (essentializing) 'indigenist' form of living and thinking that adds spiritual ontological dimensions, based on individually and collectively acquiring a practice of all-connected consciousness.

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