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Complex weather management in the Bolivian Chaco


Vanesa Martín Galán’s doctoral thesis on the different conditions for weather management in the Bolivian Chaco, was successfully defended at the School of Global Studies on 9 October 2020.

Vanesa Martín Galán, portrait.
Photo: Elizabeth Olsson

In her thesis, Vanesa Martín Galán investigates how the Guarani people and governmental and non-governmental actors in the Bolivian Chaco have the joint actions towards weather issues. Despite of the weather management becoming a common cause, the management of weather through mitigation and adaptation strategies takes place under ontological differences and power imbalances. These conditions poses problems of sideling non-modernist comprehensions of what is known as weather, and of displacing indigenous world-making practices on behalf of climate resilience.

Relational perspective on weather and climate

Galán’s study is based on eleven months of fieldwork conducted in two Guarani communities between 2015 and 2016. Drawing inspiration from research working under the umbrella of the so-called “ontological turn” in anthropology, the thesis takes difference seriously, moves away from dominant assumptions about weather and climate, and engages in a relational perspective that looks at the complex and dynamic relationships between people and their surroundings. Inspired by Latin American studies of coloniality and modernity, this study also draws attention to oppressive aspects and power interplays that shape indigenous lifeworlds and world-makings.

Addresses power interplays of local “weather” issues

The dissertation portrays the Guarani weather-related reality on “its own terms,” and addresses the partial connections, entanglement, and power interplays of local “weather” issues within the modern world. Galan’s study contributes to bringing Guarani people’s lived experiences, understanding, and reality about “weather” to the fore. While at the same time, it shows how Guarani reality becomes articulated with the dominant society and is enacted under broader and coercive socio-political conditions that discourage the emergence or strengthening of multiple worlds.

Text: Evelina Assarsson