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L'eau qui fait conflit, le conflit qui fait ressource. Recherche qualitative autour des discours sur l'eau dans des espaces protégés de l'Alto-Guadiana (Espagne) et de l'Usumacinta (Mexique)

Abstract : To cope with endemic water conflicts, which are often underlying but persist for years and seem to have become constitutive of certain territories, it appears that thought should be given to the way these conflicts are perceived by their own witnesses and actors. Hindsight evidences the inconsistencies between alarmist discourses on the problems, the promises to solve them, and the relative inefficiency of applied measures. This suggests that conflicts might have benefits that could explain their perpetuation, without regard to any permanent or occasional tensions that they eventually impose on the territory. This thesis reviews a 40-year-old conflict in the Alto-Guadiana river catchment (central-south Spain) from the point of view of reflexive and neo-materialist constructivism, and it is based on the political ecology methods that are discussed in the thesis. Its aim is twofold: i) to reach a middle ground on methodological issues to cope with reluctance of quantitative sciences against qualitative techniques, and ii) to demonstrate its usefulness and effectiveness by establishing new connections that usually escape the conscious gaze of territorial actors, including those of the techno-scientific water community, which participate on the same basis as other actors in the conflict situation dynamics. The functioning of the conflict within the protected natural areas of this Spanish river catchment and its replicate of Usumacinta in Mexico has thus been discovered using Grounded Theory qualitative and inductive techniques, by means of semi-structured interviews and direct observations. Both protocols for data collection and assembly and tools to extract meaning from transcriptions are described step by step, in order to ensure transparency and scientific reliability of the process, in the manner of natural sciences. The function of the conflict is discussed in four parts. The first one deals with the role of water data production and social representations in the search for solutions, in order to reveal the theoretical elements that make water an object of environmental conflict. The second part is devoted to the method of collecting field data and analyzing territorialized discourses on the water-related conflict. Thirdly, geosocial and political contexts of study areas are defined, and differences in perception between natural reserves and inhabited areas are underlined. The last part details the results of Grounded Theory analysis from collected empirical data. It highlights the mechanisms that drive the conflict to become a resource and the interest of territorial actors on its perpetuation. The gap between what is said and what is happening, i.e. the differences in conflict qualification between water knowledge community and other territorial actors, reflects realities of distinct nature, namely rivalries among territorial powers or social cleavage. These elements also highlight the mechanisms of conflict transformation into a resource, through the positive dynamics of the failure of proposed solutions and the benefits that conflict perpetuation brings to the whole society, which allows the development of an anchored conflict-resource Grounded Theory model. From this perspective, the purpose of this research work is certainly not to support pre-established solutions or to propose new ones, but rather to enable the actors concerned by the situation to look at themselves in a mirror, i.e. that of their own speeches and representations, in order to change their trajectory, if that is their choice, and to take knowingly the decisions that correspond to them.
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Contributor : Ana González Besteiro Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 12:48:13 PM
Last modification on : Friday, March 5, 2021 - 9:58:36 AM

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Ana G. Besteiro. L'eau qui fait conflit, le conflit qui fait ressource. Recherche qualitative autour des discours sur l'eau dans des espaces protégés de l'Alto-Guadiana (Espagne) et de l'Usumacinta (Mexique). Géographie. Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, 2020. Français. ⟨NNT : 2020LYSE3007⟩. ⟨tel-03145393⟩



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