Soil erosion and social (dis)courses in Cochabamba, Bolivia: Perceiving the nature of environmental degradation

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Worcester, MA: Clark University


This article discusses three viewpoints concerning soil erosion among rural trade unions, peasant farmers, and development organizations in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Until the 1980s, development organizations contended that peasant farmers caused soil erosion. After the 1980s, rural trade unions challenged development organizations' perspectives, maintaining that social, political, and economic policies, not peasant farmers, have shaped Bolivian landscapes and policies which cause soil erosion. In this article, emphasis is placed on the recognition of local farmers' perspectives on the causes of environmental degradation for a well-formed approach in conservation and local-global relationships. Methodologies of this case study focus on participatory interviews with local peasant farmers and participatory observation.


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Soil erosion, Soil conservation, Environmental perceptions, Development, Bolivia, Peasant economy, Environmental degradation, Discourse, Political ecology, Farm/Enterprise Scale Field Scale Governance


Economic Geography 69(3): 312-327