H2O'Lyon Webinar #3 // Edith Kauffer

On The February 2, 2021

at 5.00 pm (Paris time)
Webinar in French and English

Fishermen, Divers and Sand Miners of the Usumacinta: a journey along the riverbanks of southern Mexico.

The graduate school H2O'Lyon is pleased to invite Dr Edith Kauffer, researcher and professor in Political Science, to the H2O'Lyon Webinars.
This first session, more descriptive and anthropological, will be followed by a second one, more theoretical, on "Sediments and politics, what  interactions ?", the date of which will be communicated to you later.
Edith Kauffer is hosted by the Collegium de Lyon from Sept 2020 to June 2021 with a co-funding of H2O'Lyon

Fishermen, Divers and Sand Miners of the Usumacinta : a journey along the riverbanks of southern Mexique

Located between northern Guatemala and southern Mexico, on the border of Central and North America, the cross-border Usumacinta basin is formed from the confluence of various rivers that give life to the region's most powerful river. The Usumacinta is a basin of almost 77,000 square kilometres, of which approximately 30% of the area is covered by protected areas, but it faces many threats because it is located in an isolated region characterised by more and more tropical forest colonisation based on deforestation processes, the development of cattle breeding and more recently plantations, especially of palm oil. The flow of the river and its tributaries vary markedly between the dry and rainy seasons, facilitating an annual renewal of sedimentary resources for extraction. 

Who are the fishermen, divers and sand (and gravel) miners of the Mexican Usumacinta? These men - it is an essentially masculine activity - villagers, ejidatarios, members of cooperatives or trade unions work on the banks and beds of rivers in the framework of a craft activity, relying on local technologies but based on an organisation which is often informal in terms of positive law although effective in terms of the conditions of exploitation.

The study of the dynamics of sediment extraction activities in 13 Usumacinta sites will be presented in order to understand their modalities, their purposes and their forms of conflict regulation.

The webinar is in French with simultaneous translation into English. It will last 40 min followed by a 20-min question-answer time.

Edith Kauffer is a senior professor and researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (Centre of Research and Superior Studies in Social Anthropology) (CIESAS) in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, in Southern Mexico.
As a political scientist, she has studied refugees in Central America and in the South of Mexico and analyses refugees’ policies and Guatemalans’ return political project between 1991 and 2002. From 2003, she focused her research on water politics and policy issues: water policies, waters and borders, transboundary river basins, conflicts and cooperation, gender and water, water and power. Her fieldwork experience took place in various regions mainly in Central America, Mexico, the Mediterranean but also in Western Africa, South and North America, and Europe. She participated in diverse activities of training with NGOs and grass roots organisations, civil servants from local, states and national governments as well as international organisations in different Latin American countries on water, climate change, gender and refugees topics.

As she has always worked with colleagues from diverse disciplines of social sciences and humanities, but also biologists and engineers, her approach emphasises dialog between sciences and stakeholders’ collaboration. In this context, she recently incorporated into a bilateral, interdisciplinary and interinstitutional project between Mexico and France, which is part of her residence in Lyon.