Gendered perspectives on sheep, livelihoods, and sense of place in Sank’ayani Alto, Bolivia

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Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Tech, Office of International Research, Education, and Development (OIRED)


Cultural practices and gender roles influence women and men farmers’ specialized knowledge of, access to, and control over different spaces and resources in the landscape. This presentation explores local soil knowledge and gendered space in a Quechua-speaking, smallholder farming community in the Andean Region of Bolivia from the perspective of cultural and political ecology. This work is a part of a larger international collaborative research-for-development program targeting conservation agricultural production systems (CAPS) as a means to address food security and soil health with localized farming practices. Qualitative research methods included focus groups, participatory mapping, plot visits, and listing soil names and characteristics. These revealed that though some activities are shared by men and women, there are gender differences in activities, perceptions, and use of land. Women’s livelihood and sense of place are linked to pasturing sheep, planting potatoes, and making chuño. Men’s income- earning activities include tilling land for hire. Implementation of CAPS could lead women to lose control over spaces and local knowledge essential to their livelihoods; as well, the minimum-tillage component of CAPS could cause men to lose money from community labor or renting out cows and tractors.



Conservation agriculture, Women, Indigenous community, Food security, Men, Gender, Local knowledge, Cultural ecology, Political ecology, Andes, Potatoes, Farm/Enterprise Scale Field Scale


Presented at the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (CLAG), Merida, Mexico, 11-13 January 2012