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Green Deserts or New Opportunities?: Competing and complementary views on the soybean expansion in Uruguay, 2002-2013
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7932-3544
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In just over a decade, soybean production in Uruguay emerged from almost non-existence to second most important export product. The extraordinary rapid soybean expansion is often referred to as representing changes that go far beyond the mere substitution of one agrarian activity for another, but evolved into a broad societal concern. Accordingly, the soybean expansion has not only been debated in national media, but among NGO’s, firms, scholars, farmers, political parties as well as within broad sectors of the state apparatus. Although the views expressed are allegedly about the soybean expansion, they are found to reflect much deeper values and assumptions about what is good, appropriate and desirable. All this ultimately represents discordant alternative visions and paths of development. This dissertation outlines and analyzes the dynamics of different, complementary and competing views on the soybean expansion in Uruguay between 2002 and 2013. These have in turn been related to wider debates about “development” of longer historical roots within the social sciences.

Rather than exclusively relying on the mediatized accounts expressed in the public debate, often posed in a rather superficial and antagonistic way in accordance to some media logic, this study has made intensive use of in-depth interviews. This has allowed for deeper, more complex and nuanced accounts, as well as made possible to include voices that were only indirectly “represented” in the public debate. The main agreements and disagreements expressed in relation to the soybean expansion have been outlined, described, situated and explored. While constant contingency and unfixity are acknowledged, three main broader competing world-views, or discourses, have also been identified. These are discerned through the analysis of patterns of regularities in the articulations about the soybean expansion. The first is labelled “agro-ecology discourse”, reflecting anti-capitalist notions and centered in values of local autonomy and justice. The other is labelled “pro-market discourse”, reflecting market faith and centered in values of growth, dynamism and meritocracy. The third is labelled “pro-public regulation discourse”, reflecting beliefs in development intervention and centered in values of progress and upgrading.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Economic History, Stockholm University , 2014. , 492 p.
Stockholm studies in economic history, ISSN 0346-8305 ; 64
Keyword [en]
Uruguay, Soybean expansion, Discourse analysis, Agrarian change, Development perspectives, Agrifood globalization, agro-ecology, public regulation, pro-market
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-106563ISBN: 978-91-7447-966-9OAI: diva2:737424
Public defence
2014-09-19, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
FORMAS - 2006-2246 "The soybean chain in contemporary agro-food globalization: challenges for a sustainable agro-food system"
Available from: 2014-08-28 Created: 2014-08-12 Last updated: 2014-08-29Bibliographically approved

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Baraibar, Matilda
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