CALACS: CALACS 2021 Dissertation Prize Winner

2021 CALACS Outstanding Dissertation Award Winner

The purpose of the CALACS Outstanding Dissertation Prize is to provide recognition to a young scholar who has significantly advanced our understanding of Latin America or the Caribbean. The 2021 competition received 7 nominations, which were evaluated by CALACS’ ad hoc Dissertation Award Committee formed by one member of CALACS’ Board of Directors and two scholars from the CALACS academic community. The Dissertation Award Committee and the CALACS Board of Directors would like to congratulate all of the nominees for the outstanding quality of their dissertations, and thank them and their nominators for participating in the competition.

It is with great pleasure that CALACS announces the recipient of the 2021 CALACS Outstanding Dissertation Award:

Silvia Cristina Vasquez Olguin, Ph.D.

The Social Production of Space and Nature in Peasant Communities of a Costa Rican Dry Forest

2020 York University

Supervisor: Dr. Anna Zalik

Dr. Vasquez Olguin’s outstanding dissertation examines shifting agrarian relations in Costa Rica by focusing on the ways in which socially-produced space and spatialized social relations unfold in two peasant settlements in the province of Guanacaste. The dissertation speaks to one of the long-standing central questions in the field of peasant studies: the peasantry under capitalist relations of production. Dr. Vasquez Olguin pairs classical and contemporary agrarian studies with socio-spatial theory to demonstrate how these peasant communities have been shaped by state-led land reform and changing agricultural commodity markets, while managing to ensure the survival of subsistence-oriented livelihoods through adaptation and the production of peasant spaces. The dissertation is analytically ambitious and theoretically bold. Conceptually, it involves a creative integration of the classical early-twentieth century work of Russian agrarian economist, Alexander Chayanov, the mid-century thinking of French social theorist, Henri Lefebvre, and the late-twentieth-century frameworks of Latin American theorists of capitalism and the countryside, such as Agustín Cueva and Armando Bartra. Empirically, the dissertation’s original discoveries are rooted in impressive ethnographic, archival, and oral-historical research. With careful mediations between high theoretical abstraction and concrete, grounded detail, Dr. Vasquez Olguin maps the interaction of changes in the natural environment, political economy, intergenerational dynamics, and gender relations. The dissertation makes essential analytical contributions to the diverse fields of environmental sociology, political ecology, environmental history, and gender studies.

Congratulations Dr. Vasquez Olguin!

For more information on the CALACS Outstanding Dissertation Prize and a list of past winners, please visit http://www.can-­‐ .

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