Andean Waterways

Resource Politics in Highland Peru

Mattias Borg Rasmussen

  • Published: July 2015
  • Subject Listing: Anthropology; Latin American Studies; Environmental Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 232 pp., 29 photos, 2 maps, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Culture, Place, and Nature
  • Contents

Andean Waterways explores the politics of natural resource use in the Peruvian Andes in the context of climate change and neoliberal expansion. It does so through careful ethnographic analysis of the constitution of waterways, illustrating how water becomes entangled in a variety of political, social, and cultural concerns. Set in the highland town of Recuay in Ancash, the book traces the ways in which water affects political and ecological relations as glaciers recede. By looking at the shared waterways of four villages located in the foothills of Cordillera Blanca, it addresses pertinent questions concerning water governance and rural lives.

This case study of water politics will be useful to anthropologists, resource managers, environmental policy makers, and other readers who are interested in the effects of environmental change on rural communities.

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Mattias Borg Rasmussen is an anthropologist and post-doctoral researcher in the department of food and resource economics, University of Copenhagen.

"This timely and engaging book fills an enormous void. We now have a water ethnography that does the subject justice."
-Ben Orlove, author of Darkening Peaks: Glacier Retreat, Science, and Society

"The Cordillera Blanca, along the higher elevations of the Santa river watershed in Andean Peru, has become the focus of considerable research on climate change and associated policy anxiety for remediation of such change and its adverse impacts. The author situates what is essentially a study of water politics at a regional level within international pressures and their national mediation, in a landscape where water is abundantly present but poorly distributed. Rasmussen takes a landscape of interconnected channels and investigates this topography of flows through a careful ethnography of long-term settlers in their region. Along the way he builds his chapters around each channel and with it a particular issue-community formation, state intervention, water management bureaucracy, conflicts over mining-to show the way water and local livelihood are produced in intimate contests."
-K. Sivaramakrishnan, professor of anthropology and forestry and environmental studies, Yale University

Foreword by K. Sivaramakrishnan

Introduction: A Sense of Urgency
1. Atoq Huacanca River: Changing Horizons
2. Querococha 3 Bases Channel: Sharing the Flow
3. Shecllapata Channel: Maintaining the Course
4. Aconan Channel: Arranging Infrastructure
5. Santa River: Defending Life
Outflow: Time, Place, and the Politics of Water

Reference List

"Andean Waterways lends itself as a good text for use in teaching. The book is illustrated with stunning black-and-white photographs, which evocatively capture the landscapes that Rasmussen writes about. . . . The book is a valuable addition to the literature on resource politics in the Andes, and likely to be of particular interest to scholars working and teaching on this region."
-Jessica Barnes, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"A significant contribution to the anthropology of water in the Andes. . . . This is an indispensable book if one wishes to understand the contemporary politics of water in the Andes of Peru."
-Patricia Urteaga-Crovetto, American Anthropologist