Each year since the creation of the Center for Social Well Being field methods course, the program organizes annual conference sessions and round table discussions with international social science associations to provide forums for the presentation of research and analytical results of students and professionals involved with Participatory Action Research (PAR) theory and methods. We encourage our outstanding field school participants to take advantage of this opportunity for critical reflection, analysis and formal presentation of significant conclusions, thus bringing the field experience full circle.

Research 2013

Society for Applied Anthropology  
73rd Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado March 19th – 23rd 2013
Conference theme: Natural Resource Distribution and Development in the 21st Century

Session Organizer:
Patricia Jean Hammer
Center for Social Well Being
The Inseparability of Natural and Social Resources in the Andes:
From Field Experience to Cognitive Epiphany
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Research 2010

Society for Applied Anthropology ( “Vulnerabilities and Exclusion in Globalization”
Mérida, México 70th Annual Meeting, March 24-27 2010

Invulnerabilidad y desglobalización:
Cultural resilience in health, agriculture, religion, fiestas and development in the Andes

An important finding in exploring responses to “globalization” among “vulnerable” societies is the strength of cultural continuity and resurgence of ancestral practices in the face of imposed models of “first world” progress. This collection of presentations provide Andean examples of how transnational interventions provoke actions that reinforce Quechua regional identity based on a shared cosmovisión of the inseparability of humans with their environment. Such responses contest neoliberal exigencies of the commoditization of natural resources, agroindustrialization, technocolonialization of thought through media and education, etc. Participants will interpret their exploratory field experiences with rural Quechua community members in attempts to understand and analyze alternative conceptualizations of life and society in the contemporary Andes. Key words: cultural continuity, field work, the Andes 

Session organizers 

Patricia J. Hammer (Center for Social Well Being)
Flor de María Barreto Tosi (Center for Social Well Being)
Discussant: Sydney Silverstein (University of Kansas) Continue reading

Research 2008 – 3

Memphis , Tennessee

Proposal for the Society for Applied Anthropology,
68th Annual Meeting in Memphis , Tennessee
“The Public Sphere and Engaged Scholarship”
March 25-29, 2008

Session title:
Understanding Bio and Cultural Diversity in the Andes :
the potential for traditional knowledge to shape local and global policy Continue reading

Research 2006

Society for Applied Anthropology 2006 Annual Conference (Vancouver, Canada)

Session title:

Teaching, Learning and Applying Participatory Action Research:
Challenges, Signs of Success and Further Questions Raised.
Parts I, II and III

Session organizers:

Patricia J. Hammer (Center for Social Well Being)
Joyce D. Hammond (Western Washington University)

Session abstract:
There is increasing interest by students to gain orientation to Participatory Action Research as a means to acquire practical abilities to facilitate reflection, analysis, planning and action among communities of research. However, there exist few formal guidelines for assembling PAR courses offered in related disciplines of psychology, public health and anthropology, as well as in non-academic training settings, such as non-profit and civic organizations. This three-part session presents perspectives of PAR teachers and learners who will share significant experiences, insights and approaches that aid in the conceptualization and practice of the methodology, as well as dilemmas, drawbacks and difficulties intrinsic to teaching, comprehension and application of PAR methods. Part two opens the floor to PAR practitioners who will discuss and demonstrate recommended techniques.

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Research 2005

Society for Applied Anthropology
April 2005 Annual Conference
Santa Fé, New México

Toward an Anthropology of Collaboration:
Applying Participatory Action Approaches
in Graduate Research

This session presents the experiences, reflections and proposals for the incorporation of Participatory Action Research (PAR) methods in the design and implementation of graduate projects. Students who share critical perspectives on traditional social science approaches are increasingly concerned with problems of ethics and power relations with regard to “how” research is performed. This discussion explores the instruments developed in PAR and their potential for enhancing consciousness raising and praxis among communities of research. The changing roles of anthropologists with study participants and the creation of collaborative relationships throughout the process of defining goals, data generation, analysis and reaching consensus on the application of results will be addressed. Issues of social justice, protection of intellectual property, empowerment and advocacy are taken into consideration as fundamental to build socially aware and effective community participatory endeavors. Presenters participated in the Center for Social Well Being field methods program in Peru.

Patricia J. Hammer, Session Chair
Center for Social Well Being Continue reading

Research 2004

Participatory Action Research: Paths to Transformation

Participatory Action Research:
Discovering Paths to Social Transformation

The Center for Social Well Being organized the presentation of research and analytical results of professionals and graduate students involved in Participatory Action Research (PAR), for the joint conference of the Society for Applied Anthropology and the Society for Medical Anthropology held in Dallas, Texas, April 2004. Many of the panel members were participants in CSW’s 2002 and 2003 Ethnographic Field Methods programs in Peru, who are taking advantage of this opportunity to present their own field research conclusions.

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2018 LASA Conference Barcelona



LASA Latin American Studies Association Conference:

Latin American Studies in a Globalized World, May 23rd-26th 2018, Barcelona, Spain


Thursday May 24, 2018     9:00-10:30am

Session Title:

Andean Community Response to Socio-Environmental Disequilibrium: Lessons for us all in the Era of Global Climate Change.

Session organizer: Patricia J. Hammer (Center for Social Well Being)

Chair: Karsten Paerregaard (University of Gothenburg)

Discussant: Astrid Bredholt Stensrud (University of Oslo)

Program Track/Topic: Biodiversity, Natural Resources and Environment

Section: Peru


The significance of the Andes region for analysis of the devastation of Climate Change due to global human enterprises of war, industry and extractive mining is unquestionable. This session provides cases of collective efforts to communicate, interact with, appease and reciprocate with the natural elements to ensure plentiful harvests, needed water distribution and rain, all essential to the longevity of Andean culture and society. The voices, experiences and specific intentions of Andean inhabitants present a vital contribution to discussions of socio-environmental degradation that propose efficacious means to mitigate and adapt to the unprecedented changing conditions of the world in which we live.




  1. Marjorie M. Snipes (University of West Georgia)

Deep Ties that Bind: the Social Agency of Water in the Central and Southern Andes

Water plays a significant role in all cultures, but in agricultural and pastoral societies, water also marks social ties and belongingness. Those who share water exhibit social ties that require coordination and regulation. In societies that utilize common land, herding rights, or irrigation canals water has social agency. Water moves, weaving individual households into social collectivities and forging ties. It is a Maussian gift – one that must be reciprocated by its nature and that results in an enduring relationship. In both the ethnohistorical and ethnographic literature of the Andes, water is commonly depicted with agency. In the early writings of Huarochirí, Anchi Cara’s children “slosh” water from Purui (Salomon 1991:134) in order to share it with others and Guamán Poma de Ayala (1987) provides graphic renditions where water serves as threads of continuity between fixed points. Similarly today, in rural communities of the Central and Southern Andes there are numerous ethnographic examples of water as a social tie demarcated through rituals such as Primer [sic] de Agosto, where the opening of the agricultural cycle occurs progressively from one to another household along shared irrigation canals (Snipes 1996). In this paper, I will examine the traditional ways that water has been depicted and “handled” in the Andes. As we enter a period in which “water wars” are becoming ever more prominent, it is important to remember the ways that resources such as this have long been regulated and respected by subsistence cultures.


  1. Doris Walter (Independent)

Traditional Meteorological Perceptions and Ritual Practices in the Callejón de Huaylas (Ancash, Peru)

This paper explores how meteorological phenomena are traditionally perceived in the Callejón de Huaylas (Ancash, Peru), as well as various ritual practices which are linked to them. Although this subject has been studied in other Andean regions, little has been written on the theme in this particular Peruvian area. The paper first examines how supernatural entities, be they devils, wild animals, saints, God, mountain deities, or ancestor spirits, incarnate or act upon these phenomena. Second, it shows how human beings can influence the weather. That is, on the one hand, improper human behaviour related to a lack of respect for nature, or disharmonious social relationships, can cause undesirable phenomena such as violent winds, hailstorms, unusual rains or droughts as well as natural disasters. But humans may also interact beneficially with meteorological phenomena through ritual practices, for example by calling or chasing the rain or the wind. There are numerous variations in these rituals from one community to another. Such beliefs and practices – many of which are now falling into disuse – give us deeper insight as to how local people interpret climate change and glacier retreat in this area of the Andes.


  1. Karsten Paerregaard (University of Gothenburg)

Getting Water Right: Offerings, Rain and Politics in the Peruvian Andes. Water is important not only as a natural resource but also as an object of political empowerment, social meaning, and cultural imagination. To unpack water’s social nature the paper examines the symbolic power Andean people attribute to it and discusses the multiple meanings of the offerings they conduct to the forces they believe control the rain. Drawing on ethnographic field research it examines two cases that in opposite ways demonstrate how environmental and social change shapes Andean irrigation management and ritual practice and transforms the intricate relation between water and power in the Andes. It argues that to access water Andean people must pay tribute to the mountain deities and other powers that regulate precipitation in the region but that climatic and political change upsets the relation of reciprocity they establish with the environment. It concludes that Peru’s current water crisis has made water emblematic of social and cultural identity in the Andes and turned water management into an issue of political conflict.


  1. Astrid Bredholt Stensrud (University of Oslo)

Engaging with living water and earth-beings in responses to climate change: a cosmopolitical potential?

Peasant farmers in Colca Valley in the southern Peruvian Andes are experiencing environmental changes that are increasingly being explained by global warming. The most critical effect of climate change is the decreasing water supply due to melting glaciers, drying springs, and irregular rainfall. Farmers also perceive new instabilities – changes in the known seasonal cycle of rain, frost, heat, and drought – which affect their livelihood. The farmers’ varied responses include engaging in relationships with sentient beings in the surroundings: earth-, mountain-, and water-beings. People maintain relations of reciprocity with these beings to ensure fertility, productivity, wellbeing, harvests and water supply. Collective ritual practices have been re-actualized in the past few years because of climate change: making offerings to springs, paying tribute to mountains and calling the rain. For example, an annual ceremony to Mt. Hualca Hualca was taken up again a few years ago to ensure continued water supply from the mountain’s melting glacier. I will discuss to which degree these relational practices have cosmopolitical relevance beyond local livelihood strategies in their potential to challenge current extractivist approaches to nature and change human-environmental relations.


  1. Patricia J. Hammer (Center for Social Well Being)

Collective Action for Rain: Andean precision in weather perceptions to perform effective Rituals that reinforce Socio-Environmental Solidarity

Last November an extraordinary event took place in the Cordillera Blanca, the highest tropical mountain range on the planet. Distressed by 6 months of drought, a consortium of highland authorities and community members arrived at the conclusion that the much needed precipitation was impeded by an Early Flood Warning device installed by international researchers. The mobilized citizen group ascended to the glacial lake within their communal territory, removed the apparatus, after which the seasonal rains began torrentially. Thousands of years dedicated to the care and nurturing of the nearly 90 delicate ecological niches present in Peru (Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental) by many different ethnic societies reverberates today in the thoughts, perceptions and actions of Andean communities to conserve and revitalize both their natural and social environment. While the IPCC (InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change) meeting to be held in Quito, Ecuador in 2018 verifies the recognition of the importance of the Andes region by scientists, minimal value is given to the centuries old wisdom, carefully constructed knowledge, as well as everyday practices and perceptions of Quechua speaking peoples in understanding and interacting with their surroundings. As director of the Center for Social Well Being located on the Río Chucchun in Carhuaz where this incident occurred, I analyze socio-environmental relations in the Andes relevant for creating new paradigms of social dynamics which motivate cohesion and concerted action that manifest in the face of ecological degradation globally.


Discussant: Astrid Bredholt Stensrud (University of Oslo)