Society for Economic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
How do communicate the inevitable consequences of climate change to its most vulnerable victims? To answer this question the paper reviews ethnographic field data on perceptions of environmental and climatic change in a Peruvian mountain community. It discusses three case studies that in different ways illuminate the challenges the use of local climate voices to prepare for climate change adaption poses. The data reveal a paradox in the way the community understands global climate change. The villagers who live on the margin of the global world and belong to the poorest economic strata in Peru are deeply concerned about climate change and its impact on their environment. Yet when locating the cause of climate change they point to their own community rather the industrialized world and propose mitigation actions rather than adaptation initiatives as answer to the problems it entails. The paper suggests that adaptation initiatives must address this paradox by not only listening to the villagers’ interpretation of environmental change but also taking into account the socio-economic conditions that constrain their means of actions and the global and national discourses that shape their climate perceptions. It concludes that in order to support climate change adaptation in mountain communities the Peruvian State and other external organizations must find the right balance between, on the one hand, engaging local climate voices and encouraging local participation and, on the other, recognizing their limitations and preparing for anticipatory adaptation.