Syracuse University Magazine

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An environmental justice activist collects a sample of water contaminated by a minerals processing plant in Japo, a mining center in the Bolivian Andes. 




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Morococala, another mining center in the Bolivian Andes, is still in operation, despite outdated equipment and dangerous working conditions.

Photos courtesy of Tom Perreault




Mine-Related Water Contamination

Project: Mine-Related Water Contamination and Rural Livelihoods in the Bolivian Andes

Investigator: Tom Perreault 

Department: Geography

Sponsor: Fulbright Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education

Amount Awarded: $55,722 (2010-11)

Background: For more than a century, acidic drainage from hundreds of mining operations has severely impacted the water quality and quantity in the lakes and rivers of the Altiplano (high plain) region in the Bolivian Andes. The scale and nature of mine-related water pollution in the regionparticularly in the Lake Poopó watershed, the geographic focus of this study—have been well documented. Considerably less is known, however, about the everyday impacts of water pollution for the Quechua-speaking indigenous campesino (farming) peoples who make up a majority of the region’s population, and their ability to influence the processes and structures that govern water pollution. This project examines the relationship among water, mining, rural livelihoods, and environmental governance in the region, with a particular focus on how mine-related water contamination influences campesino communities located downstream from major mine sites. Moreover, the project explores how these people experience the institutional arrangements of environmental governance on a daily basis, and the degree to which they are able to shape those institutions through political engagement and/or popular mobilization. 

Impact: Perreault has established strong collaborative relationships in Bolivia and developed the project in close consultation with CEPA, a Bolivian nongovernmental organization, and CORIDUP, a grassroots network of 80 indigenous campesino communities affected by mine contamination. During field research, he will work closely with these organizations and share all results with them. An undergraduate research assistant (URA) from SU will receive intensive training in geographic information system and statistical analysis, literature review, and field methods, allowing the URA to assist with aspects of field research in Bolivia, as well as literature review, data analysis, and writing. The research results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and the publication of a monograph authored by Perreault. Results will also be published in Bolivia (in Spanish) as book chapters and/or journal articles, as well as in booklets, newsletters, and web site posts, in coordination with CEPA. Research results will also be presented at workshops in participating campesino communities, and are expected to aid communities in their efforts to promote the remediation of degraded lands and waters.



Neighborhoods, Shops,

and Shrines in a North Indian Market Town

Project: Peopled Places: Neighborhoods, Shops, and Shrines in a North Indian Market Town

Investigator: Ann Grodzins Gold

Departments: Religion and Anthropology

Sponsor: Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education

Amount Awarded: $135,836 (2010-11)

Background: The project investigates non-rural, non-metropolitan experiences of place in Jahazpur, a small market town in Bhilwara District in the North Indian state of Rajasthan. With roots deep in history and legend, Jahazpur is, by reputation, both conservative and diverse. Some framing issues include town and country contrasts and continuities, and the distinctive character of a provincial municipality as well as its relationship to cosmopolitan India and the wider world.  

Impact: Through ethnographic fieldwork focused on specific sites among Jahazpur’s neighborhoods, markets, and shrines, Gold plans to explore and document residents’ meaningful engagement with their town’s ordinary and extraordinary places, seeking to reveal complex intersections of locality and identity in rapidly changing times. 




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View of Muslim neighborhood with mosque taken from the roof of Hindu Ashapurn ("Hope-Fulfilling" goddess) Temple.



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The heart of Jahazpur, a bus stand and gate into the old market, with a political banner on display.

Photos courtesy of Ann Grodzins Gold