Javiera Barandiaran

PhD Designated Emphasis in STS

Assistant Professor, Global Environment and Law
University of California, Santa Barbara
CSTMS Research Unit: Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies
DissertationRegulatory Science in a Developing State : Environmental Politics in Chile, 1980-2010
Advisor(s)David Winickoff
Degrees Master in Public Policy :: UC Berkeley (2008)
MA in Politics :: University of Edinburgh (2000)

Research Areas

Post-colonial STS, Development and science, Experts and government, Democracy and dictatorship, Latin America, Chile, History of Science and the Environment, Innovation policy

My dissertation, Contesting Democracy, Buying Experts: Environmental Conflicts and Assessments in Chile, examines how scientific and technical rationality are used in public decision-making. Chile is a fascinating case study because its institutions and policies epitomize global governance trends: the privileging of markets, property rights, private initiative and “technocratic” decision-making, all seemingly deployed with great success. I analyze four emblematic environmental conflicts that challenge Chile’s development success story: a gold mine that threatened glaciers in the dry central Andes (2005); a paper and pulp mill whose pollution allegedly provoked the disappearance of hundreds of black-neck swans (2005); the near-collapse of the farmed salmon industry due to an illness epidemic (2008); and the proposed construction of five mega-dams in the Patagonia (2011). I focus specifically on how scientists are enrolled, in each controversy, as experts in environmental impact assessments (EIAs). I find that the EIA itself becomes an object of controversy: it fails to legitimate projects, as in the gold mine and the Patagonian dams, and it fails to exercise accountability, as with the black-neck swans and salmon. These failures can be traced to the different expectations actors hold about the adequate role of expertise and potential for conflicts of interest in public decision-making.

last updated: April 21st, 2015