Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Disputed Spaces : Concheras, Shrimp Aquaculture, and Conservation in the Mangrove Forests of Southern Esmeraldas, Ecuador Public Deposited

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  • The mangrove ecosystem has served as a life-support system to large populations of coastal dwellers in Ecuador for many generations. Diverse communities comprised of multi-racial and multi-ethnic groups have formed along the edge of the mangrove forests throughout the Ecuadorian coast. These groups self-identify as being part of an “ancestral” pueblo of the mangrove ecosystem. As is the case of many rural frontier lands in the Global South, the coastal regions of Ecuador have experienced an influx of various large-scale economic activities over recent decades that resulted in a vast biophysical transformation of these landscapes. While these developments have environmental implications, they have also resulted in complex social and cultural impacts. This dissertation examines the people-mangrove relations of the inhabitants of a community in southern Esmeraldas, Ecuador that has historically relied on mangrove resources to subsist. Semi-structured interviews, household surveys, participant observation, and geolocational data were collected in Bolívar, a mangrove community in Muisne, Esmeraldas to gain an understanding of the ways in which the community perceives, utilizes, and interacts with the mangrove forests. It further identifies how the introduction of new spatialities to these mangrove spaces – shrimp aquaculture and mangrove conservation – affect the spatiality of the ancestral mangrove users. An examination of these contemporaneous spatialities reveals that they conflict, converge, and complement one another in variegated and often insidious ways. This dissertation argues that because the mangrove forests are being appropriated for the extraction of resources, whether through shrimp aquaculture or state-led conservation, the introduction of these spatialities pose comparable social and cultural impacts on the mangrove users who have historically depended on mangrove resources. Loss of access to mangroves has resulted in the loss of spaces traditionally used by the community to sustain nutritional needs, to carry out livelihood practices, and to foster cultural and personal identity, which has resulted in complex social and cultural changes Furthermore, the findings of this dissertation indicate that the impacts of these processes are not evenly spread among all mangrove users, but rather further marginalize vulnerable groups, particularly the women of the community.
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  • Ongoing Research
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  • 2018-06-22 to 2020-07-23



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