Development in Chiapas: Dams, Tourism and Peasant Politics

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Martin Larsson


This thesis analyses how development appears as lived experience along the Grijalva River, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. Here, the post-revolutionary Mexican State tried to move a modernist project forward through a series of dams, in the middle of a state associated with rural poverty and indigeneity. Contemporary experiences of development along this river relates to this broad history, and the established image of the state - deepened by the uprising of the predominantly indigenous Zapatista Army for National Liberation in 1994 - but also involves a range of other struggles that are materially and historically anchored in the river. To approach development along the river, the thesis pays attention to important connections and disconnections between things, beings, forms of knowledge and practices that relate to the river, and which enter into the struggles over particular projects. Above all, the thesis examines the significance that issues about land and water, notions of people and population, gender, labour, borders, and ethnicity have had for the appearance of development as lived experience. While these topics have been important for the literature on development, as well as in the writings about Chiapas, the main contribution of this thesis is how the anchoring to the material traces of development along river offers a different angle from which to enter these discussions. Using the materiality of the river as an entrance point leads to a reformulation of certain central ideas about the politics of development, but also opens up the field for issues that do not immediately show any clear relation to the phenomena referred to as development. At the same time, the approach implies a revision of the contemporary significance of certain histories in the state.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2018