Association of Polar Early Career Scientists
 

APECS Webinar: Research Processes and Politics in the Peruvian Andes

25 September 2017 at 23:00 GMT

Presenter: Mark Carey (Professor of History and Environmental Studies, Robert D. Clark Honors College, University of Oregon)

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This presentation will discuss nearly two-decades of research strategies and practices for glacier-related research in the Peruvian Andes, particularly the Cordillera Blanca. This mountain range is one of the world’s hardest hit by glacier-caused disasters, with more than 10,000 people dying from glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) and rock-ice landslides since the 1940s. But it is also the place where Peruvian engineers and scientists have done some of the most effective mitigation work to prevent GLOFs: they have studied, monitored, partially drained, and even dammed 35 dangerous glacial lakes over time. It thus served as an ideal site for my social science research on the history of climate change adaptation and human interactions with glaciers over 75 years. Yet doing the Cordillera Blanca research was never easy. Access to information, data, and research sites was often blocked. Local authorities and experts needed to personally approve (or not) many of my research practices. Institutions sometimes rejected my proposals or thwarted my progress. Collaborations emerged slowly. In short, my studies have required what I call “research diplomacy,” which involved extensive personal connections, collaborations, networking, and reciprocal interactions with a host of individuals, institutions, and stakeholders in Peru. This kind of research diplomacy is useful (and I would say essential) for researchers in any field, from glaciology and hydrology to history and human geography.

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