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.
Celeste Marie Gagnon
Celeste Marie Gagnon is an associate professor and department chair in anthropology at Wagner College, Staten Island, NY. As a bioarchaeologist trained in biological anthropology and archaeology, her scholarship traces the embodied experience of sociopolitical and economic change on the north coast of Peru during the early pre-Columbian period. Her focus is examining human skeletal remains for evidence of diet and health, with particular regard to the practices of chewing coca and drinking chicha (corn beer). Her work has been published in the Journal of Archaeological Sciences: Reports, the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, and Ñawpa Pacha: Journal of Andean Archaeology. With the support of Wagner College and MOCHE Inc., she has been providing American students with engaged learning experiences in the Moche Valley of Peru since 2011.