Gender, Environmental Change and Resilience in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca

Authors: Holly Moulton*, University of Oregon
Topics: Mountain Environments, Latin America, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: gender, resilience, adaptation, glaciers
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 11
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Women in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca, the most glaciated tropical mountain range on Earth, are surrounded by disappearing ice. By 2100, de-glaciation of all but the highest peaks in the area is expected (Silverio and Jaquet, 2017) and disaster maps show dramatic red flood zones and seasonal water scarcity. Despite these apocalyptic narratives, many women are successfully caring for social and familial networks. More specifically, women that I have interviewed defy the category of ‘triply vulnerable highland villagers,’ those who are poor, indigenous, and female (IUCN, 2009). They are instead increasing their household security by building and managing tourist hostels, transplanting montane crops to urban gardens, and having children later in life. These women appear to be resilient, not vulnerable.

This preliminary study explores female and indigenous narratives of resilience and environmental change in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca, a climate change ‘hotspot’. I do this by using ethnographic methods— including visual ethnography and participant observation, both in-person and remotely— to explore how women think about home, environment and resilience, and how these linkages are being shaped by climate change. Additionally, I use content and discourse analysis to compare local perspectives of resilience and vulnerability with government and NGO narratives of the same terms. I argue that a more robust understanding of non-Western conceptions home and women’s social networks is critical to understanding global dialectics of vulnerability and resilience in the face of climate change.

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