Watery Relations: Assessing Complex Hydrological Systems and Pastoralism in the High Puna of the Bolivian Apolobamba

Date
2021
Authors
Hoyle, Alesia
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Abstract

This thesis examines how pastoralist societies develop, construct, and manage the flow of water and, in turn, what a study of complex hydrological systems can reveal about a community's social and economic entanglements. The Apolobamba region of Bolivia boasts several hydrological features like qochas, bofedales, and tajanas that are sometimes engineered to work together or in singularity to produce such complex hydrological systems. Specifically, qocha water reservoirs have facilitated pastoral lifeways in the high-altitude puna grasslands, but the deep relational connectivity between water, humans, animals, and mobility in the Andes needs exploring with significance placed upon a hydrological understanding of qocha formation and management. To explore these relationships, the study conducted a pedestrian survey and ArcGIS-based landscape analysis of a 307.7 km2 area in southwestern Apolobamba, which revealed how pastoralists have modified and transformed the qocha complex hydrological system from the Tiwanaku Period, and perhaps earlier, to contemporary times to better manage its waters. This evidence for qocha management implies embedded symbiotic relationships between the landscape, water, and human-animal mobility practices through localized, small community involvement and responsibility.

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Keywords
Digitization, Photographs, Field study, Hydrologic sciences, Bolivia, Complex hydrological systems, Entanglements, Human-animal-environmental relations, Landscape, Pastoralism
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Department
Anthropology