Water Gives, Water Takes Away. Memory, Agency and Resilience in ENSO—Vulnerable Historic Landscapes in Peru

Rosabella Alvarez-Calderón, NULL Silva-Santisteban

Producción científica: Informe/libroLibrorevisión exhaustiva


The valleys of the north coast of Peru comprise a rich cultural landscape that over many centuries facilitated the development of complex societies, due to a year-round temperate climate, abundant natural resources and fertile soils. This area is also vulnerable to episodic ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) events, in which elevated sea temperatures and changes in wind patterns lead to intense rains, flooding, droughts and disruptions in the coastal food chain. Historically, El Niño events have varied significantly in intensity, frequency and location, so that while some communities experienced devastation, others benefited from an increase in water, the expansion of green areas and vegetation and the creation of new ecosystems. The societies of the pre-Hispanic period like the Moche, Sicán and Chimú were skilled at understanding, adapting and transforming these diverse territories and in adjusting to the ebbs and flows of water through technological, managerial, religious and performance-based approaches. In times of environmental stress, human sacrifices were a way for people, usually leaders and elites, to commune with their deities to give thanks and ask for relief, while also serving to negotiate and consolidate political and symbolic power, prestige and privilege. These narratives and experiences of the past have the potential to offer modern-day rural and urban communities valuable lessons in rethinking how to live with water and increase resilience, especially in the face of more frequent ENSO events, climate change and urban expansion. Learning from the past in order to ensure a better future, however, also requires consideration of failure, fear and perplexing perceptions of risk. Finally, it is valuable to understand how some markers of social complexity, like deep economic and symbolic ties to a place, and the desire for stability, can hinder flexibility and lead to responses that ultimately increase vulnerability to El Niño events.
Idioma originalEspañol
EstadoPublicada - 1 ene. 2021

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