Olivia is back in the office after five months of fieldwork in the Argentine Chaco. Between May and July, she spent most of her time talking with people that have recently migrated away from the forest towards a rapidly growing town, to understand the pressures acting on families living through the expansion of soy and maize monoculture in the region. Then, in July and August, Olivia made her way into the forest to work with charcoal producers. By examining the supply chain of this nationally important commodity she's found that there are fascinating (albeit worrying) feedbacks happening between agricultural expansion and charcoal production in the region (stay tuned!). Finally, in September, Olivia gave a workshop (aimed at exposing youth living in rural communities of Santiago del Estero to concepts in Ecology) in twelve primary schools. During these, she had a chance to interview many teachers - inarguably the experts on the dynamics of outmigration happening in the region. What's next? Lots of data analysis for the next couple months, and then hopefully a return trip to continue the workshops in April and May!
A couple of weeks of intense* fieldwork in the Pilcomayo have allowed Yann to answer some pending questions on settlement history and land conflicts on the left bank of the Pilcomayo river in Paraguay - and, of course, generate some new ones. Next steps are creating a draft booklet of settlement history in the area to disseminate locally and starting to write all this up as academic papers, linking what is happening there to theories of agricultural frontiers, land use regime shifts, and land access changes. Stay tuned!
*) Temperatures of up to 44 degrees Celsius without fan or AC and a solid 800km on the back of a motorbike on some of the worst roads of the country will wear one out!
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