ISRF Independent Scholar fellowship awarded to IGDC Research Associate

News | Posted on Tuesday 19 January 2021

IGDC Research Associate, Dr Hanne Cottyn, is awarded funding by the ISRF's seventh Political Economy Research Fellowship for her project to unravel Lake Poopó’s “more-than-human” histories.

Image: Lake Poopó before the dramatic drought of 2015. Photo courtesy of Centro de Ecología y Pueblos Andinos, Oruro.

IGDC’s Research Associate, Dr Hanne Cottyn was one of five nominated who attained the ISRF Independent Scholar Fellowship (seventh competition) for her project ‘The “more-than-human” history of a disappearing lake. Historicising indigenous responses to socio-environmental change in and around Lake Poopó, Bolivia.’

Her 10-month project aims to make sense of the historical rhythms and uncertain future of a disappearing highland lake. 

In Bolivia, Lake Poopó made international headlines when its –once vast- body of water dried up late 2015. With the lake, the Uru-Qotzuñi ethnic minority’s identity -“the people of the lake”- seemed to evaporate as well. Existing research on the Lake and Uru-Qotzuñi communities’ dramatic decline recognizes that socio-historical factors play a role, but these factors have not been examined in detail. The project approaches the recent events as part of longer processes of landscape transformation, the proposed project aims to foster the integration of ethnohistory and environmental humanities research.

The project builds on ten years of (post)doctoral historical research in fragile Andean ecosystems and will use untapped historical source material. It will combine diverse archival and ethnographic research, delving into the intimately entangled histories of bodies of water, plant and animal communities, and different human ethnic groups in the Poopó basin. The project, which will begin towards the end of 2021, includes an intensive research stay in the Department of Oruro (Bolivia) to undertake historical and ethnographic research in local archives and in collaboration with NGO CEPA (Centro de Ecología y Pueblos Andinos), communities and local partners. These local alliances will support a collaborative exploration of how daily human-environmental dynamics have shaped this “more-than-human” landscape. 

In its global strategy to address climate change, the UN deems indigenous knowledge of key importance to develop sustainable responses to environmental change. By letting indigenous communities’ lived experiences, and situated knowledge hold centre stage, the project aims to contribute to creative and innovative ways to understand and address interwoven ecological and cultural vulnerabilities. 

The Independent Social Research Foundation is a public benefit foundation dedicated to advancing the social sciences by supporting independent-minded researchers to explore and present original research ideas which take new approaches, and suggest new solutions, to real world social problems.

Contact us

Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre
igdc@york.ac.uk
01904 321042
Department of Politics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
@York_IGDC

Contact us

Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre
igdc@york.ac.uk
01904 321042
Department of Politics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
@York_IGDC