In this “Just Environments” essay, Celeste Gagnon, Alicia Boswell, and Patrick Mullins examine the impact of devastating El Niño storms on small, rural communities in the Peruvian Andes. Largely overlooked by the federal government, these communities have relied on grassroots responses to the rains, in effect building new social structures of resilience. As climate change increases the potential for more frequent and intense rains, it is clear that new forms of resilience will become ever more essential to the well-being of these communities.
Alicia Boswell is an Andrew W. Mellon “Cultures of Conservation” Postdoctoral Fellow at Bard Graduate Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As an anthropological archaeologist specializing in the pre-Columbian societies of Peru, her research examines local-imperial relationships from the perspective of marginal communities. She is particularly interested in understanding both the lived experience of household and producer communities and how these experiences are indirectly and directly connected to sociopolitical relationships. Equally important in her research is community-based heritage preservation projects. With MOCHE Inc., she has been collaborating with communities in the Moche Valley, Peru, since 2010. She is a contributor to Golden Kingdoms: Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas (J. Paul Getty Museum) and is an editor of the forthcoming volume Life at the Margins of the State: Comparative Landscapes from the Old and New Worlds, with Kyle Knabb (University Press of Colorado). She received her PhD from UC San Diego in 2016.