20 December 2012

PhD dissertation: "Prisms of Water"

- Abandonment and the Art of Being Governed in the Peruvian Andes

PhD dissertation by Mattias Borg Rasmussen, Waterworlds, Department of Anthropology

The Peruvian highland attracts worldwide attention in these years as one of the iconic places of global climate change. Poor peasants have thus unwillingly been put in the front row as witnesses to a seemingly untamable, global process.

But the fact that the glaciers retreat is only part of the story about lives lived in the Andes in the beginning of the twenty-first century - a time, when the cleavage between rich and poor broadens and the peasants describe their own situation as being one of abandonment.

The dissertation is based on twelve months of fieldwork, a small town on the foothills of the white peaks of the Cordillera Blanca.

Starting off from water, Rasmussen scrutinizes how this life-giving substance is the center of political and social negotiations. He draws up portraits of a series of persons in their endeavors to handle capricious water supplies for themselves, their children, animals and fields through meetings with an unpredictable government, local institutions and their own, internal power struggles.

Through the ethnographic material, Rasmussen shows how climate changes are placed in different ways within political, social, cultural and historical landscapes. By following the movements of the water, Rasmussen thus highlights how climate change interacts with political relations and challenges cultural understandings of the world.

Through looking at the multiple connections created through and around water, the dissertation thus investigates how human lives unfold in a context of seemingly drastic changes.

The dissertation can now be bought at Academic Books, Øster Farimagsgade 5, DK-1353 Copenhagen K.

Mattias Borg Rasmussen received his PhD degree at the 17th of December 2012.