Accepted Paper:

Engaging nature: climate change in the Peruvian Andes  


Mattias Borg Rasmussen (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

Located amongst peasants in the Peruvian highlands, this paper takes a critical gaze at ways of engaging with nature through an analysis of the ‘mind and minding’ of environmental uncertainties in the context of global climate change

Paper long abstract:

Since times immemorial, environmental uncertainties have been part of the everyday in the Andes. However, as climate change challenges the ways of engaging nature in mountain regions around the globe, people are increasingly forced to deal with the environment in new ways. Based on 12 months of fieldwork in and around the small provincial capital Recuay in northern Peru, this paper will discuss what climate change looks like from a position that is both at the margins of society and in front row of climate change, and how this is dealt with on different levels of society. In her writings on uncertainty Whyte (2009) argues that uncertainty is about 'mind and minding', i.e. that something is uncertain because we care and it is important to us, and this in turn prompts us to act in a certain way. On Mind: The first part of the paper takes a critical gaze at 'nature', asking how current anthropological studies of climate change challenges our understanding of the environment, and how these insights might enlighten the analyses of environmental change in the Andes. On Minding: The second part of the paper will take up the issue of 'engagement', thus providing a discussion of how people involve themselves in uncertain matters of the surroundings. Thus, I will argue that by looking at ways of engaging nature as forms of minding we can approach the multiple strategies and tactics employed by people in order to act, counteract, and anticipate upon an environment in flux.

Panel W099
How to tame, play or skirt environmental uncertainties?