Exploring Wellbeing

Exploring Wellbeing: Human-environment relations in indigenous and Afro-descendant communities

Man walking in salt pondsCoordinated by Prof. Florence Babb (UNC-CH, Anthropology, fbabb@unc.edu)
Prof. Gabriela Valdivia (UNC-CH, Geography, valdivia@email.unc.edu)
Maja Jeranko (UNC-CH, Anthropology)
Lucía Stavig (UNC-CH, Anthropology)
Lara Lookabaugh (UNC-CH, Geography)

The purpose of this working group is to explore how different political actors in Latin America and the Caribbean conceive of and practice wellbeing, particularly centering lifeways motivated by community, sovereignty, human and ecological health. This work is particularly important during a historical period marked by significant social upheaval that stems from differing ideas about environmental stewardship, changing bio-physical environment, human-nature relationships, and buen vivir or “good living”.

Over the past several decades, some social groups in the Latin American and Caribbean region have seen improved economic conditions and increased opportunities. However, these advances have also led to greater inequalities and increased exploitation along lines of difference – namely gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, and class. Especially apparent in the current conjuncture are conflicts between the state and indigenous and Afro-descendant groups over what constitutes buen vivir. This conflict extends to disagreements over who (and what) is a sentient and agential being. Heeding marginalized groups’ assertions that the natural and the cultural are co-emergent, and the mind and body are interconnected, scholars have begun to reframe conflicts between indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples and states as ontoepistemic conflicts, or struggles over ways of being and knowing. This interdisciplinary, graduate student-led working group seeks to explore this reframing.

Copyright 2018 | The Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University