Parting the Watershed: The Political Ecology of a Corporate Community in the Santa Cruz River Watershed, Sonora, Mexico.
AuthorEmanuel, Robert M.
AdvisorGreenberg, James B.
Committee ChairGreenberg, James B.
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.
AbstractEcological change very often parallels social change. The concept of the social-ecological system (SES) provides a holistic means of accounting for the dualistic nature of human-environmental interactions by acknowledging that social, political and economic factors influence and are in turn influenced by the processes of ecological change. These transformations can be contextualized within nested adaptive cycles of change that respond to pre-existing conditions and which provide new opportunities for system actors. The adaptive cycle also grants that processes of social and ecological change may be permanent, irreversible and result in new configurations not previously imaginable. The ability for an SES to respond to these processes of change depends upon its resilience which defines the range of reversible change within a stable state. Resilience is determined by a system's vulnerability, by the pre-existing or available capital.Within this dissertation, I assert that resilience is an important factor to consider in studying arid land political ecology. Resilience can be influenced by both institutional and environmental factors. I assert here that institutional factors alone cannot explain the pace of change in a particular political ecology. While institutions constitute the dominant signals with regards to economic decision making, environmental signals may be ultimately more significant. I utilize a detailed case study focused upon a watershed and ejido in northwestern Mexico. This case study demonstrates the influence of strong political and economic signals that influence local economics. Nature bats last and can exert powerful forces over institutional choices. Using this case study, I demonstrate how a dramatic shift in climatic as well as hydrologic regimes leads ultimately to a general degradation of agropastoral ecological resources and their replacement with new, stable but less desirable states. Land-use has subsequently changed. The latter set of ecological changes has become a sort of death of a thousand cuts that has reduced the community's ability to tap local natural capital and thereby generate economic capital. This study is intends to contribute to our knowledge of political ecology by evaluating the concepts of ecological resilience, multiple stable states, and adaptive cycles to the study of these social-ecological systems.