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Estudios atacameños

On-line version ISSN 0718-1043


VERZIJL, Andres; BOELENS, Rutgerd  and  NUNEZ, Oseas. Modern temples and sacred spaces: Entangled hydrosocial territories in Cuchoquesra, Peru. Estud. atacam. [online]. 2019, n.63, pp.251-274. ISSN 0718-1043.

This paper shows how a modern hydraulic development project interfered with local understandings of place, water, and hydrosocial territory in the Andean region of Ayacucho, Peru. Our analysis centres on two logics regarding hydraulic structures and related practices that play a crucial role in the constitution of the area’s divergent waterscapes: a large embankment dam and an “ushnu platform”. We present the practices and technologies deployed by the project engineers bringing forth a modernist hydrosocial territory connected to hydro-meteorologically measured sources, surveying and geodesic markers, dam shape and fill and seepage control. The embankment dam provides domestic and irrigation water to thousands of downstream users. Yet the dam also submerged the lived territory of the Cuchoquesera-Quispillaqta community - that is founded on water ritual practices and objects, including locally rooted notions of seepage, ushnu platform shape and fill, community markers and mountain beings protecting the wetlands. Both hydrosocial territories occupy the same space, interact and entangle in friction. This has led to changing paradigms and practices regarding (both irrigation engineering and community steered) land and water use patterning.

Keywords : hydrosocial territories; water cultures; peasant communities; Ayacucho; Peru.

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