Amanda recently graduated with a dual M.A. in Latin American Studies and Community and Regional Planning.
This research was made possible in part by funding from the Latin American & Iberian Institute and a Tinker Foundation Field Research Grant (FRG). For more information about the FRG, please visit the LAII website.
During the summer of 2014, with funding awarded by the Latin American and Iberian Institute, I traveled to Bogotá and Bucaramanga for thesis research on large-scale mining in Colombia. I investigated the role that transnational, specifically Canadian, mining operations play in shaping ecologies and the social fabric of communities through one case study. The mine site, property of a Canadian company, in the high mountain wetlands of Santander, Colombia is a current and emblematic example of the complexities that arise between territorial governance, environmental management, and land and labor rights in areas ceded to transnational capital. The research exposed further questions for investigation in land planning and political ecology, namely, the paradoxes that allow large-scale mining to be considered “sustainable development.” The case brings to light the discord between human rights/environmental protections and transnational businesses operations in areas of social conflict. The Committee for the Defense of Water and Santurbán Páramo is a coalition of individuals and organizations across a broad political and socioeconomic spectrum that has, so far, succeeded in pressuring the government to protect their water source: a fragile and vital páramo ecosystem.