Semester of Graduation

Summer 2021

Degree

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Department

Geography and Anthropology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

This thesis analyzes the gap between farmers' environmental perceptions in Téquita, a small village in Colombia, and the definition of protected areas has led to a conflict for the use of natural resources. I examine if the protected area's policies have dealt with the social and ecological issues in the páramos and recognized the social construction of the landscape, farmers' identities, and their interpretations about work and land. The case study focuses on Güina High Mountain in the Guantiva-La Rusia páramo complex, which recently the Colombian government declared as a protected area. In light of anthropologist Tim Ingold's meaning of environmental perception, I analyze qualitative information obtained through documentary review, semi-structured interviews with Sativanorte farmers, and mayor's and environmental authorities’ officials to establish the environmental perceptions in conflict. This work analyzes how environmental perception theories are an analytical tool to explore the landscape as a social construction and the human decision-making processes over the environment. Results demonstrate an interdependent relationship between human settlements and the Güina High Mountain, where the land is a means of work and an active agent that gives them power, the ability, and the strength for living, working, and making decisions. Likewise, results reveal that regulation and government officials' narratives consider farmers as threatening to the environment, which has contributed to de-signifying and removing el páramo from the identity of el campesino paramuno (a farmer from the páramo). Moreover, the government, environmental authorities, and society condemn and punish farmers' activities publicly over the land and their work, perpetuating logics where the conservation of the environment depends on the farmer's education and consciousness. My thesis offers a descriptive and exploratory analysis of environmental perceptions and looks at farmer's decisions to find alternatives that allow clearing up the conflicts about the governance and management of land in protected ecosystems.

Committee Chair

Colten, Craig E

Available for download on Sunday, January 02, 2022

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