Field Initiative 4. Bolivia

Cochabamba Water

Project Coordinator: Katy Dye, UIC, PhD Student in Anthropology.

Supervisor: Molly Doane, UIC, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Artist Participant: Leticia Bernaus, UIC, MFA Student in Studio Art

This field initiative will examine the emerging water crisis in Cochabamba and its surrounding hinterland in central Bolivian highlands.  Since 2012 this region experienced a severe and prolonged drought.  In response, the ruling MAS party has taken the position that the drought is the direct result of anthropogenic climate change.  In this field intervention, we examine how the crisis as an event is produced simultaneously on multiple registers of everyday experience and state discourse.  We ask, how has the discourse of climate change been vernacularized in contemporary Bolivian state practice?  How does this state discourse enter into local understandings of the crisis, and what alternative meanings do local actors attach to the experience of water scarcity?  What specific encounters do Cochabambinos understand as key moments in the water crisis? In order to address these questions, the research team will use a mixture of traditional ethnographic techniques and PhotoVoice, an innovative visual method pioneered in public health and urban planning as a means of representing lived experience. Archival research conducted at the Centro de Documentaciόn e información (CEDIB) as well as the electronic archives of local newspapers will guide the field initiative.