CLAYTON A. WHITT, then a graduate student at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, was granted funds in April 2013 to aid research on 'Climate Change and Spatial Transformations in the Bolivian Highlands,' supervised by Dr. Gaston R. Gordillo. This project employed ethnographic methods to explore the day-to-day, on-the-ground experience of climate change in a Quechua-speaking sheep-, dairy-, and quinoa-producing community in the western highlands of Bolivia, located at 12,000 feet of elevation. Climate change is already causing major impacts in the high Andes, including higher temperatures and a shorter, more intense, rainy season. The grantee lived in the research community for twelve months and explored-through daily interactions with local people, participation in community work and cultural events, and interviews-how different people perceive and experience such changes on a daily basis, what kinds of emotional impacts climate change has on different people, and how other local problems identified by community members relate to or are made worse by the changing climate. Farmers described anxiety over major shifts in the rainfall cycle that result in diminished crop production and damage from dryness during crucial planting periods and rain that interrupts harvests. Spatial transformations related to climate change also influence people's daily emotions, whether through annoyance and anxiety caused by deep mud and local floods or even fear from intense and at times fatal electrical storms. As a social problem, climate change intersects with and is complicated by other issues such as water pollution, perceived mismanagement in the local government, and crumbling infrastructure.
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
British Columbia, U. of
Whitt, Clayton Abel, U. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada - To aid research on 'Climate Change and Spatial Transformations in the Bolivian Highlands,' supervised by Dr. Gaston R. Gordillo