Rio Revuelto: Irrigation and the Politics of Chaos in Sonora's Mayo Valley
AuthorBanister, Jeffrey Milton
Committee ChairMarston, Sallie
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe irrigation landscape known today as Distrito de Riego 038 (southern Sonora's Mayo Valley) issues from historical struggles to construct an official order--set forth in maps, plans, and in a kaleidoscopic array of programs--out of a highly differentiated world of signs, symbols, places and peoples. This dissertation tracks and analyzes those struggles, beginning with nineteenth-century military efforts to map and colonize the valley, and ending with recent attempts to "devolve" control over the irrigated landscape to "water users." The lower Rio Mayo basin is the ancestral home of the Yoreme, or Mayos, an indigenous group for whom agricultural development--and colonization more broadly--has brought a loss of autonomy, of control over the Rio Mayo floodplain and its surroundings. Entwined with this process, particularly since the late nineteenth century, was the federalization of the river itself, and, over time, the entire hydrographic basin.In part because of the fluvial nature of water--or, rather, the implications of its unpredictability for the squest to tame it--even quintessentially modern complexes like Distrito 038 develop dependencies on and become deeply reworked in the engagement with a less-than-modern world. The district is, in many respects, quite obviously a space of capitalist-state hegemony. And yet, people have always done what they must to simply get by, to access resources any way they can for livelihood and production. Thus, while programs created to centralize/federalize hydraulic governance may have ensured a functional hegemony at certain critical moments and in particular places, the everyday micro-politics of access and allocation constantly chaffed against this process. Emergent around state-led irrigation, then, have always been counter-territorial projects, struggles to create autonomous spaces of resource access and use, and sites for alternative geographical and political imaginaries.