Daniela Salvucci

Daniela Salvucci (Università di Siena, Italien)

Lecture of Daniela Salvucci (Università di Siena, Italien)
“Inhabiting the Calchaquí Valley and Highland. Eco-logics and Environmental Networks in Northern Andean Argentina.”
May, 2014

Inhabiting the Calchaquí Valley and Highland.
Eco-logics and Environmental Networks in Northern Andean Argentina.

The north-western Argentinian Andean region of the Calchaquí Valley and Highland, in the province of Salta, is characterized by its diverse consecutive “ecological levels” (Murra, 1972) corresponding to different altitudinal belts: the highland, the foothills and the valley. In each of them inhabitants developed specific strategies of access to local resources as well as to those of the other levels. We show that their patterns of organization in the environmental surroundings, which we call “eco-logics”, concern with the spatial circuits of transhumance and trade, but also with the trajectories of migrations. Furthermore, we argue that such patterns can be analyzed as “fields of environmental relationships” (Ingold, 2000) in which not only humans, but also non-human elements are involved creating complex life worlds spanning over three ecological levels. Using both concepts of eco-logics and environmental networks, we propose a new approach to analyze living in the Andean region.
On the highland (Jasimaná, 3.300-3.800 m.a.s.l.), shepherds move with their herd of llamas, goats and/or sheep between the low and the high plateau, alternately during the wet and the dry season, dwelling different houses and huts. In contrast, people living on the foothills (San Lucas, 2.500-2.000 m.a.s.l.) move between the mountains, where their goats and cows graze, and the canyon to cultivate small plots of land. Many shepherds’ offspring live in San Carlos (1.700m a.s.l.), a village in the Calchaquí Valley. They are peasants and seasonal labourers who usually migrate temporarily to the city, like most other people of Jasimaná and San Lucas. In conclusion, many inhabitants of this zone are “people-in-transit” involved in changing environmental networks including different animals, plants, objects and also spirits, lost souls and landscape entities. Moreover, these people-in-transit are engaged in a world perceived by them as a whole powerful entity which is generous but also dangerous for humans, called “Pachamama”, something like “Mother Earth”.
On one side, we analyze the specific eco-logics of each level, according to the main concepts of the Cultural Ecology. The eco-logics involve different Andean mechanisms of control (Salomon, 1985) over manifold complementary “productive zones” (Brush, 1977) along different ecological floors.
On the other side, our proposal follows the environmental perspective of Ingold (1990, 2000), who conceptualizes an inhabitant as an “organism-person”, a person which is involved in a set of ecological relationships. Consequently, we try to map the environmental networks showing connections between humans and non-humans and how these connections could change inhabiting and moving along the highland, the foothills and the valley.

Dr. Daniela Salvucci is a Cultural Anthropologist from the University of Siena (Italy). She made her doctoral research in north-western Argentina (Salta, 2011) investigating kinship practices, rituals and ecological inhabiting patterns of shepherds and peasants in different Andean villages. She gradueted at the University of Siena in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology investigating the argentinian web sites about genealogies, family histories, and new genealogists’ associations in Buenos Aires Capital Federal (2008). During her studies she worked at a research project of the Ethnology Department of University of Siena (2007) about contemporary kinship and new family structures in Toscana (Italy) and investigated the kinship networks of Italian migrants in Argentina (Córdoba, 2005).