The Extractive Industries and Society
L4. Cultura del desastre y gobernanza del riesgo
Historia y Arqueología
Gestión del riesgo de desastres
DroughtI, Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous hydrosocial endurance, Extractivism, Climate Change
Extractivism is intensifying climate-induced water tensions in indigenous communities. As a response, climate sciences have acknowledged the capacity of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) for the design and application of ad-hoc adaptation techniques and interventions. However, the mainstream literature on indigenous water-related adaptation has often presented TEK in ways that neglect the knowledge flexibility and its political role in community perseverance and indigenous resurgence. To expand on this analysis, we examine the case of the Aymara community of Quillagua in northern Chile in the context of “extractivist droughts,” or water dispossession caused by the mining complex. Specifically, we describe how Quillagueños and Quillagueñas articulate multiple strategies to resist against, co-exist with, and flourish in the face of the entwined effect of extractivism and colonialism on water, or what we call indigenous hydrosocial endurance. Drawing upon an ethno-historical approach, we reconstruct the history of indigenous hydrosocial interventions articulated in Quillagua. Our results suggest that the Aymara community of Quillagua has resorted to four strategies to endure water dispossession over time: endurance by invention, reappropriation, ethnification, and tweaking. Each of these strategies responds to the specific and evolving hydro-political conditions produced by mining extraction that have affected indigenous livelihoods in the Atacama Desert since the 19th century. We conclude the article by arguing that adaptation literature and policy should acknowledge the embodied condition of indigenous knowledges; otherwise, it may be disempowering indigenous struggles against settler-colonialism.