Aymara Indian Perspectives on Development in the Andes by
Publication Date: 2013-08-30
Aymara Indians are a geographically isolated, indigenous people living in the Andes Mountains near Chile's Atacama Desert, one of the most arid regions of the world. As rapid economic growth in the area has begun to divert scarce water to hydroelectric and agricultural projects, the Aymara struggle to maintain their sustainable and traditional systems of water use, agriculture, and pastoralism. In Aymara Indian Perspectives on Development in the Andes, Amy Eisenberg provides a detailed exploration of the ethnoecological dimensions of the tension between the Aymara, whose economic, spiritual, and social life are inextricably tied to land and water, and three major challenges: the paving of Chile Highway 11, the diversion of the Altiplano waters of the Río Lauca for irrigation and power-generation, and Chilean national park policies regarding Aymara communities, their natural resources, and cultural properties within Parque Nacional Lauca, the International Biosphere Reserve. Pursuing collaborative research, Eisenberg performed ethnographic interviews with Aymara people in more than sixteen Andean villages, some at altitudes of 4,600 meters. Drawing upon botany, agriculture, natural history, physical and cultural geography, history, archaeology, and social and environmental impact assessment, she presents deep, multifaceted insights from the Aymara's point of view. Illustrated with maps and dramatic photographs by John Amato, Aymara Indian Perspectives on Development in the Andes provides an account of indigenous perspectives and concerns related to economic development that will be invaluable to scholars and policy-makers in the fields of natural and cultural resource preservation in and beyond Chile.