Seminar : River’s Rights – People’s Rights? Urban Socio-Ecological Conflicts in Asunción, Paraguay
Latin American Anthropology Seminar :
February 18 2021 5.00pm – 7.00pm (Institute of Latin American Studies) :
River’s Rights – People’s Rights? Urban Socio-Ecological Conflicts in Asunción, Paraguay / Facundo Daniel Rivarola Ghiglione, Graduate Institute Geneva.
In recent years, there has been an emerging debate about the “right of nature” and “nature’s jurisprudence.” From rivers to forests to animals, holders or claimants of rights are no longer presumed to be exclusively “human.” This research project brings together recent scholarly engagement with more-than-human approaches, post-colonial critiques, and urban political ecology. It centers on the case of the Paraguayan river and marginalized indigenous/mestizo communities’ struggle over access to urban spaces in the city of Asunción. State-run new urban redevelopment projects deem that floodplains areas of the city “rightfully” belong to the river and that marginalized communities living there should move elsewhere. However, these areas, known as Bañados, were never empty floodplains. Indigenous, mestizos and rural migrant communities have lived there since colonial times, forming a historically rooted socio-ecology with the neighboring river. This project aims to understand the way(s) in which the recent urban redevelopment projects in Asunción create a socio-ecological conflict between what is understood as the “rights” of the river (to space, to flow, to move, to “inhabit,” etc.) as opposed to that of marginalized urban communities. It combines ethnographic methods in different locations of Asunción city and state institutions with historical archival research. In this way, the research aims to advance understandings about novel forms of governing people and the “environment” in an era marked both by climate change and uncertainty as well as greater social and political inequalities.
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