Aymara perspectives: Ethnoecological studies in Andean communities of northern Chile
AdvisorStoffle, Richard W.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation presents participatory ethnographic research, which was conducted with the Aymara Indians of the northern Chilean Andes, from November 1998 through January 1999, in an attempt to understand Aymara perspectives of recent development that has taken place within their ancestral homeland. A study design was developed that would engage Aymara people directly in the assessment of their cultural and natural resources along an altitudinal gradient from the coastal city of Arica to the Altiplano, the high plateau at Lago Chungara. This interdisciplinary study in Arid Lands Resource Sciences draws upon the fields of ethnoecology, American Indian studies, applied cultural anthropology, botany, agriculture, history, physical and cultural geography, and social and environmental impact assessment. Ethnographic interviews with Aymara people were conducted in sixteen Aymara villages along an attitudinal transect from sea level to 4600 meters. A systematic social and environmental impact assessment was executed along International Chilean Highway 11, which connects Arica, Chile with the highlands of Bolivia. For Andean people, economic, spiritual and social life, are inextricably tied to land and water. The Chilean Aymara comprise a small, geographically isolated minority of Tarapaca, the northern border region, who are struggling to maintain their sustainable and traditional systems of irrigation waters distribution, agriculture and pastoralism in one of the most arid regions of the world, the Atacama Desert. Ethnoecological dimensions of the conflict between rapid economic growth and a sensitive cultural and natural resource base are explored through participatory research methods. The recent paving of Chilean Highway 11, the diversion of Altiplano waters of the Rio Lauca to the arid coast for hydroelectricity and irrigation, and Chilean national park policies regarding Aymara communities, their natural resources and cultural properties within Parque Nacional Lauca, the International Biosphere Reserve, are examined from the perspectives of the Aymara people. The potentiality of indigenous resource management of this protected area is discussed within the context of human-land reciprocal relations. The findings of this study, based on Aymara Indian perspectives, are designed to aid in understanding and appreciating the cosmological vision, and the needs of Andean communities in the poorest province of Chile. The Aymara showed great interest in having their perspectives and cultural concerns expressed and incorporated into historic and cultural preservation legislation.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Arid Lands Resource Sciences