Hidden Living Landscapes – Conversations on nature, culture, knowledge, resilience and loss in the Andes of South America

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Hidden Living Landscapes – Conversations on nature, culture, knowledge, resilience and loss in the Andes of South America, is led by Christine Hastorf (Anthropology) and Lisa Trever (Art History).  At the time of the European invasions, the Andean region of South America sustained some of the highest population densities in the western hemisphere. Nearly four millennia of cumulative resource utilization including in situ plant and animal domestication, farming, herding and fishing communities resulted in a complex socio-environmental cultural system that featured dramatic landscape-scale transformations and complex political structures across a very diverse environment. Yet, today these nations are considered some of the poorest regions of the Americas.  How did this trajectory occur and what cultural riches survive that have been ignored throughout the colonial and into the post-colonial periods?  This one-year seminar program hopes to present a series of bi-weekly workshops that will focus on the interweaving of agronomy, visual culture, archaeology, anthropology, and botany, to address the major themes of cultural resilience and degradation and how these two aspects of society can exist, yet apparently remain hidden in a large region of the Americas over the past three thousand years. Part of this project will be to grapple with the issues of meaning and religion as it impacts and pertains to living things in the landscape and how farmers and herders dealt with their landscape and sustained their production within the modern state and globalization. How do indigenous people manage or not manage their resources in different political regimes both in the more recent states and in the pre-colonial past? The tensions between western and indigenous ways of describing and engaging with the landscape, including the ontological turn that has been developed as a theoretical social approach to non-western cultures in South America and has spread around the world will be presented and discussed as the workshops engage with this core tension of western and non-western ways of being in the world.

Photo taken by Professor Christine Hastorf in Bolivia.