The UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

Javiera Barandiarán

Global & International Studies, UCSB

Scientists, Maps, and Environmental Conflict in the Chilean Patagonia

Phelps Hall 3512 (map)
12:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Javiera BarandiaranAbstract. During the 19th and 20th centuries, states often used mapping and maps as instruments to build empire. State-sponsored military expeditions regularly included trained experts with the task of mapping the territory to identify boundaries, resources, and populations that needed to be brought within the state’s sphere of control. In contrast, since the 1970s, some states have delegated this capacity to private actors, like scientists or consultants working for businesses. In this talk, I will explore this shift in the state’s mapping and scientific capacities through an analysis of the controversies around HidroAysen, a large hydroelectric dam project planned for southern Chile. This work is part of my book in-progress in which I argue that this shift in who holds scientific and technical capacity is part of a broader transition from empire-like to umpire-like states. I borrow the term “umpire state” from Milton Friedman, who argued the state’s role was to neutrally enforce the rules, like an umpire, rather than to articulate and pursue a vision for governing its territory – that is, to act like an empire. I will examine how Chile’s umpire state works in practice by analyzing the decision-making process around HydroAysen.

Javiera Barandiarán is Assistant Professor in Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research examines how Latin American states build democratic practices, produce economic growth, and deal with environmental problems through the lens of scientific expertise and technological systems. Barandiaran completed her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy and Management. She holds a Masters in Public Policy, also from Berkeley. Her research has been awarded support from the Social Science Research Council and the National Science Foundation, and has been published in Science as Culture, Science and Public Policy, Latin American Research Review, Higher Education and the edited volume, Beyond Imported Magic: Essays in Science, Technology and Society in Latin America (2014, MIT Press).

Barandiaran is currently working on two projects. The first is a book manuscript about four environmental conflicts in Chile that examines how competing views of the state were fought out through science. The second project is a comparative study of lithium mining in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, currently the largest lithium deposits worldwide.


The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.
Please contact Andrea Ballatore (893-5267, to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

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ThinkSpatial: Javiera Barandiaran