Eric H. Thomas F'19

Eric H. Thomas
Affiliated Scholar
Anthropology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2019
Doctoral Candidate
Anthropology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Making the Frontier: Contesting Development on the Coast of Patagonia

Based on 14 months of ethnographic fieldwork on the coast of Chilean Patagonia, this project uses critical development theory to examine relationships between rural residents pursuing multiple livelihoods in remote spaces, globalized industries that increasingly dominate these resource-rich but sparsely-populated edges of the global economy, and state agents tasked with serving both groups. An unprecedented red tide in 2018 revealed that the development favored by state planners—which has privileged growth over sustainability—is destructive to coastal ecosystems and livelihoods. Coastal residents are now using red tide narratives and bureaucratic skills developed through participating in public programs to assert their status as victims, hold officials accountable for ecological devastation, and gain a greater say in the development of their region.