Critical Spatial Practice

An environmental history of La Guajira (2019)
  • Diana Salazar | Colombia and UK

  • Ni con el Bruno, ni con ninguno / A member of the Wiwa indigenous people walks though the new bed of the diverted River Bruno, in solidarity with the Wayuu indigenous people affected by coal mining in La Guajira, Colombia (diana.salazar@ucl.ac.uk) Epiayu's History / My father was the founder of Tamaquito. Now in Tamaquito 2 (a resettlement), there is no water. The trees are not the same. The Spirits are not the same (diana.salazar@ucl.ac.uk) Decapitated River / Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia has diverted the River Bruno. In this international delegation to visit the works, we found the new river bed dead, as is this grasshopper on the same path (diana.salazar@ucl.ac.uk)
  • Exploring how networks of activist-academic solidarity linking Colombia and the UK resist coal extraction

    This research aims to build an environmental history of La Guajira, that connects local struggles of ethnic groups affected by coal extraction, to networks of solidarity between the UK and Colombia. The research aims to produce an environmental history of La Guajira, from the 1970s, that is embedded in the history of social struggles of communities affected by coal extraction from London-based mining multinationals, and to explore the role of networks of solidarity between the UK and Colombia in disrupting the violation of human and environmental rights produced by coal extraction. 

    The research is framed as activist-academic, whereby my work as an academic researcher is linked to my activist practice as part of international networks of solidarity. The approach to environmental history derives from the Indian and the Latin American scholarship, which is embedded in the history of social struggles, linking the protection of the environment to a strategy of subsistence. 

    The fieldwork takes place between two countries, Colombia and the UK, and it is integrated to two annual events organised by solidarity movements working with coal mining-affected communities in La Guajira for over a decade, in a long-standing relationship of solidarity mainly focusing on issues of human rights and environmental justice. One event is the Speakers’ Tour of mining-affected people to the UK and the other is the Witness for Peace delegation to La Guajira.


    Biography:

    I hold a masters in Environment and Sustainable Development a UCL and a bachelor degree in Ecology from Javeriana University in Colombia. I am in the second year of a PhD titled: An environmental history of La Guajira: Exploring how networks of activist-academic solidarity linking Colombia and the UK resist coal extraction. 

    I have worked for several years in education and developing projects and research in international development in Africa, Latin America and the UK. I have also been an activist in the UK working with communities in Colombia, mainly on issues of coal extraction and through the London Mining Network, I am currently a trustee of this organisation. 

    I have taught on the module of Political Ecology, part of the MSc Programme Environment and Sustainable Development at the Development Planning Unit in UCL. Currently, I am working as a PGTA for the course Geography in the Field II for undergraduates in the Department of Geography at UCL. 

    I participated in producing a book about seed policies in Colombia as a response of the huge national mobilization voicing the use of uncertified seeds. I wrote the chapter: ‘Learning from the Agrarian Summit in Colombia: The power of the native seeds’ (2017, Colombia). http://repository.usergioarboleda.edu.co/handle/11232/1009.  

    I have published academic articles on the issue of energy access in informal settlements in Maputo with Professor Vanesa Castan Broto:                                         

    http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137473530#aboutBook (2017, UK).

    https://policy.practicalaction.org/component/dspace/item/energy-access-andurban-poverty (2015, UK).

    https://extra.shu.ac.uk/ppp-online/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/communities-urban-energy-mozambique.pdf (2014, UK).

    I have researched and published about Urban Agriculture and social movements in Bogota: http://hal.univ-grenoble-alpes.fr/hal-00975423/document, (2012, France) and https://civicwise.org/civicpractices/ (2017, Spain).

    I have studied the modules ‘Situated Practice: Research Methods’, as part of the MA Situated Practice and ‘Materialist Ecological Architecture’ and ‘Research and Dissemination’ as part of MA Architectural History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture in UCL. 


    Practices:

    Currently, my approach focuses on how my research can be linked to my activist practice with the struggles of mining-affected communities. This aims to contribute meaningfully to the movement’s processes by producing relevant information and materials, and also, to challenge the colonial logic of research by formulating a collective research strategy, that proposes the research question, methods and final products together towards the benefit of those directly involved. In addition, I want to explore how social movements in local struggles from different parts of the world connect among themselves to build an understanding of the same issues from different perspectives.


    Keywords:
    Environmental History
    Extractivism
    Activist-academic research
    International Solidarity

    References:

    Trujillo, Luis Angel; Rodríguez, Carlos and Hernández Piraiba, Confucio (2018). Ecología ilustrada del gran bagre amazónico. Tropenbos International.
    Link

    Tuhiwai-Smith, Linda (2008). Decolonizing Methodologies, Research and Indigenous Peoples. Zed Books. 

    https://www.facebook.com/pg/Fuerza-Mujeres-Wayuu-913069132141388/posts/  and https://londonminingnetwork.org


    Other projects:
  • Time on Site (2019)
  • Stori Mwd (A Story of Mud), (2019)
  • not nothing (August 2019)
  • Hungry Mothers, En La Frontera (2019 – present)
  • Exchanging Values at Bank (18 October 2019)
  • Cybiog: locating the digital self, (2019/20, 2 mins 45 secs)
  • Civic Pedagogy, learning as critical spatial practice (2019)
  • An environmental history of La Guajira (2019)
  • A Weird-Tender in progress (2019)
  • A walk in your words (25.01.2019)
  • Portal Zaryadye: A Portal Not Only to Heaven, But Aslo To Hell (24 July – 12 August 2018)
  • Text-isles: sowing an idea, October (2018)
  • Objects removed for study (2018)
  • Female Futures Lexicon on Space (2018/2019)
  • Bank Job, (2018–2020 and beyond)
  • windwoundweatherwovenwirewoman [performance] (2017)
  • Viscous Myths (2017/2018)
  • The Pass (October 2017 – June 2018)
  • The House Alice Built (2017/2019)
  • Productive Withdrawals: Art Strikes, Art Worlds, and Art as a Practice of Freedom (December 2017)
  • Request for the unrequested voluntary interlinguisticality (2017)
  • Caring for Communities (2017 – 2019)
  • Bodies + Borders (2017 – present)
  • a place called … (Spring 2017)
  • Uppland (2016 – 18)
  • Music for Masterplanning (2016 – 17)
  • P | A | N – Proyecto Amasandería Nacional (2016)
  • Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces (2016)
  • In My Mothers’ Garden: Memories and practices of Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp (2016)
  • Having not felt like eating, but eaten, I sat down to eat / tea … (2016)
  • Bamboo dialogues (2016)
  • Alternative Arrangements: Walking the Border in Ireland (2016 – ongoing)
  • Matter of the Manor (2015 – 19)
  • The First World Congress of the Missing Things (2014)
  • Private Choices, Public Spaces (2014)
  • Hanging Matters (2014)
  • Act#5 & Act#6: What does Mai Mai Mean? (March 2014 – December 2016)
  • Gardening for Untold Ecologies: A Manual for Making an Arid GARDEN Out There, (2013)
  • A Game of Dominoes (2013)
  • Lina & Gio: the last humanists (February – June 2012)
  • Learning-through-Touring (2012)
  • Empty Words Build Empty Homes (2012)
  • Ridley’s (2011)
  • Hustadt project, 2008 – (2011)
  • Palimpsest Performances (2010 – 2014)
  • Negotiating Conflict: Bordering Practices in a Divided Beirut (2010 – 2014)
  • Expanded Architecture (2010 – 2014)
  • Unfixing Place: A Study of Istanbul through Topographical Practices (2008)
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