The University of Arizona

From rural haven to civil political project: utopian ideals and environmental protection in the precordillera, Santiago, Chile

Consuelo Biskupovic


This article describes the origin and development of local political culture in the La Florida commune (Lo Cañas neighborhood), located in the foothills of the Andes, on the edge of Santiago, Chile. It presents an ethnography of la Red, a civil association created in 2006 to 'protect' the foothills from real estate development. First, this work analyses how nature's destruction is experienced as a threat to the way of life and utopian project of residents and Red members. The construction of the neighborhood is intimately related to the configuration of this political project. Different ideals of what the environment means were studied in order to analyze the construction of, and the engagement with, this space. Through this case study, we consider two different utopias: the community project as a common savoir-vivre in the precordillera and, later, the creation of a civil-political project aimed at producing political changes and maintaining a way of life.

Keywords: Collective action, environmental protection, precordillera, Santiago, utopia.

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