Black Communities on the Colombian Pacific Coast and the 'Aquatic Space': A Spatial Approach to Social Movement Theory

Oslender, Ulrich (2001) Black Communities on the Colombian Pacific Coast and the 'Aquatic Space': A Spatial Approach to Social Movement Theory. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Spatial insights into the workings of social movements have received little attention in established social movement theory so far. Emphasis is usually placed on the temporal dimensions of social change, and most accounts of social movements examine only briefly the particular worldly place out of which a given movement emerges, before the more 'serious' analysis focuses on the movement structures and how it is inscribed in the wider global changes of history. This thesis argues that an approach to social movements via their specific geographies or, more analytically, their spatialities provides a deeper understanding of both a movement's particularity 'on the ground', and the ways in which social movement agency is articulated across different scales from the local to the global. Through a genealogy of spatial theorising it is shown how 'space' and 'place' matter in social movement theory and research. A place perspective is then offered on the social movement of black communities on Colombia's Pacific coast that has mobilised in the wake of the new Constitution of 1991 in the form of ethnic-territorial organisations that defend their rights to cultural difference as intrinsically linked to territorial control. Focusing less on the social movement structures per se than on the 'pre-geographies' or 'soils' out of which social movement agency emerges, this thesis advocates an ethnographic cultural geography and applies thick description and the voices of local people on the Colombian Pacific coast to unlock the 'aquatic sense of place' among rural black populations in this region. The 'aquatic space' as a particular set of spatialised social relationships in the Pacific lowlands is then examined and the ways in which it has been instrumental in the organising structures of rural black communities into community councils along river basins. These processes are further examined in the light of capitalist and state interventions that frequently mediate them, thus creating complex interactions between ethnic social movements, the state and capital. The thesis concludes by arguing that such a place perspective on social movements, drawing on both resource-mobilisation theories and identity-oriented perspectives and grounding them in space, provides deeper insights into the workings of social movements than established social movement theory.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Latin American studies, Social structure, Ethnic studies
Date of Award: 2001
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2001-76171
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 16:31
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 16:31

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