Trails and roads: from the Paramo to the city : exploring the tensions between environmental conservation and economic growth. A case study in Sumapaz, Colombia.

University essay from Lunds universitet/Kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi; Lunds universitet/Humanekologi

Author: Juanita Alvarez Jaramillo; [2020]

Keywords: Social Sciences;

Abstract: The need to preserve ecosystems to enable the reproduction of a global market-based economy has led conservationist measures that are in contradiction with a model of Development heavily based on the connectivity to broader markets. The case of protected Colombian Paramo in Sumapaz explores trails’ as a conduit to understand social mechanisms for space-time appropriations and how are they contested. Through the application of the extended case method approach, and framing diverse methods in a critical realism perspective, primary and secondary sources are presented to open a discussion around the power embedded in trails to reproduce socio-environmental orders. This thesis draws from different theoretical references, especially from ecological Marxism and Urban Political Ecology (UPE) scholarship, to formulate that trails express different features depending on the scale upon social structures unfold and intertwine with different social actors. Finally, it is discussed how fetishist infrastructure, which aims to highlight a pristine ecosystem by reducing its relation to people, obscures the underlying mechanisms that reproduce environmental degradation. In addition, it is explored how the political aspect of trails, to ensemble socio-environmental orders, underlines the infrastructure’s visibility in the global south to navigate and challenge dominant orders and inequalities.

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