Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 587–604 | Cite as

Regarding biocultural heritage: in situ political ecology of agricultural biodiversity in the Peruvian Andes

Article

Abstract

This paper emerges from and aims to contribute to conversations on agricultural biodiversity loss, value, and renewal. Standard international responses to the crisis of agrobiodiversity erosion focus mostly on ex situ preservation of germplasm, with little financial and strategic support for in situ cultivation. Yet, one agrarian collective in the Peruvian Andes—the Parque de la Papa (Parque)—has repatriated a thousand native potatoes from the gene bank in Lima so as to catalyze in situ regeneration of lost agricultural biodiversity in the region. Drawing on participant action research and observation, this paper engages with the projects underway at the Parque—as well as “indigenous biocultural heritage” (IBCH), the original action-framework guiding the Parque’s work. IBCH grounds the ecology of successful crop diversity within the Andean cosmovisión, or worldview—which is included, but marginalized, in mainstream agrobiodiversity conservation policies. The IBCH concept counters apolitical renderings of agrobiodiversity erosion, arguing that this disregard of biocultural heritage perpetuates colonialist devaluations of efficacious “traditional ecological knowledge” and epistemologies. Accordingly, this paper discerns here an on-site, or in situ, political ecology of agricultural biodiversity conservation.

Keywords

In situ agricultural biodiversity Political ecology Cosmovisión Indigenous biocultural heritage Peruvian Andes 

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Environmental Politics, School of International ServiceAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA

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