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ESEH Environmental History Today: A more-than-human history of the (de)peasantisation of the páramos around Bogotá, Colombia.

  • April 20, 2021
  • 11:00 AM (EDT)

This seminar is part of the ESEH Environmental History Today Seminar Series.

In this seminar Hanne Cottyn (University of York), Santiago Martínez (Instituto Humboldt), Ana María Garrido (Instituto Humboldt) will present their research on the (de)peasantisation of the páramos around Bogotá, Colombia, from a 'more-than-human' perspective.

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Throughout the twentieth century, the peasant families that settled in the rural areas around the Colombian capital of Bogotá have developed an intimate relationship with these mountain landscapes known as “páramos”. However, in a constantly shifting context defined by struggles over land, urban expansion, Green Revolution, armed conflict and emerging conservation policies, their presence in the páramos has been overlooked, fomented, denied and contested. In this presentation, we unpack the (de)peasantisation of the páramos in terms of a multispecies negotiation. First, we interrogate how páramo landscapes continue to figure as a passive and homogeneous backdrop in the study of these dynamic peasant trajectories. At the same time, we question the way in which páramos have emerged as an object of research and governance to which the presence of peasants constitutes an anomaly. With the aim of overcoming the mutual blind spots between the study of peasants and páramos, we analyse the practices through which peasants have made and defended the páramo as a habitable space, and the negotiations this involves with diverse human and other-than-human actors. Combining historical and ethnographic methods, we examine specific cases in the páramos of Sumapaz, Chingaza and Guerrero.

Hanne Cottyn, Santiago Martínez and Ana María Garrido collaborate on the interdisciplinary research project “Integrating ecological and cultural histories to inform sustainable and equitable futures for the Colombian páramos” (NERC, AHRC, GCRF) coordinated by the University of York and developed in collaboration with UK and Colombian institutions, including Instituto Humboldt. Hanne Cottyn is a historian specializing in rural and environmental history of the Andes and is currently based as postdoctoral associate at the Department of History of the University of York. Santiago Martinez and Ana María Garrido are anthropologists based at the Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Alexander von Humboldt in Bogotá, Colombia, where they work in the “Social Sciences and Knowledges of Biodiversity” Programme. Santiago is a medical doctor by training and holds a PhD in Anthropology from the Universidad de los Andes (Colombia). Ana María is a biologist by training and holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Anthropology of the University of Kent.

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