Geographies of knowledge production in a neoliberal setting: The case of Los Lagos region, Chile

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Thomas Perreault


Knowledge production, Chile, Environmental policy, Salmon production, Salmon farming

Subject Categories



This research explores how scientific explanations of the expansion of the salmon farming industry in Los Lagos Region shape environmental policies that regulate them and affect regional development projects. The central question is, to what extent do struggles over knowledge about natural resources affect environmental policy outcomes in the Los Lagos Region, Chile? This research takes a political economy and political ecology approach to explain why certain policies are privileged instead of others, and what role science and research have in those decisions. Methodologically, is based on 10-months of fieldwork in Chile, specifically in Santiago, Valparaíso, Puerto Montt, Valdivia, Chiloé and nearby localities where actors of knowledge production, environmental policy, and the salmon industry are located. I used a mix-methods design that included archival work, interviews, participant observation, and mapping. What this case reveals is that the predominance of discourses supporting nature's exploitation oriented the kind of research promoted as well as the political solutions that prioritized economic development over environmental protection. Although the scientific community may be better aware of the extent of environmental degradation, they still work within the discourse of nature's resources as the source of Chile's development. Thus, the struggle over the role of nature in development is not framed in terms of why we are using natural resources but how? And knowledge production is developed accordingly, creating a blind spot for decision makers and scientists interested in contributing to environmental policies.


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