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Indigenous peoples and climate change

Research project in Human Ecology

Project's title: Indigenous peoples and climate change

Project's duration: 2014-2017

Contact person: Anders Burman

Researchers in the project:


Indigenous peoples’ understandings of weather and climate often differ from Western meteorology. This project aims to investigate contact and cooperation between indigenous peoples and government agencies and NGOs in the Andes. Our purpose is to examine how each agent understands the problem of climate change and how to define the risk.

Theoretically, we assume two concepts: "the middle ground" and "cosmopolitics". The first term describes the supposedly shared understanding of a phenomenon created when people with different worldviews aspire to work together on problems associated with the phenomenon in question. The second concept refers to the use of metaphysical symbols in political rhetoric and practice and is helpful to explore how indigenous people draw on their religious traditions to make political claims.

The project consists of three subprojects that depart from different local conditions that illustrate various aspects of the problem: two projects are located in the climatological dry and temperate Andean environment - one is based in a rural setting in Bolivia and the other in an urban environment in Peru. The third subproject is located in the humid and tropical regions of the Andes’ eastern slopes of Peru.

The selected areas differ in important respects though the different communities share key cosmological conceptions of the relationship between man and environment which enables a comparison that is based on both worldviews and everyday practices.

The project is funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (RJ) and runs over a period of three years. The project is a research collaboration between the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg and the Human Ecology Division at Lund University.