A conversation with Marisol de la Cadena on the notion of Earth Beings, the Uncommons and the political implications of her work in creating ontological openings to understand Andean world making practices beyond the notion of cultural belief. Moderated by Miguel López.
Marisol de la Cadena is an anthropologist, teaching at the University of California, Davis. She studied at the Catholic University of Lima, at the University of Durham (England), at the École des Hautes Études (Paris) and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA). Considering that anthropology is a conceptual way of describing and that what is described may be - that is, may be - outside the epistemic scope that makes knowing possible, Marisol's work consists of interrogating what is considered empirical (which may not be) in order to elaborate what she calls ethnographic concepts. These concepts can help to think without the obligation to know before doing so. Her first book Mestizos Indígenas is about how racial formation in Latin America articulates racial hierarchies on cultural as well as biological notions. In her last book Earth beings. Ecologies of Practice across Andean Worlds, Marisol talks with Mariano and Nazario Turpo (father and son, and Quechua speakers, born in Cuzco in a remote village around Ausangate, a mountain and central figure in the book) about the partial connections (i.e. considering the incommensurabilities that may not only be such) between their worlds.
Marisol de la Cadena is currently doing fieldwork in Colombia, where she visits cattle farms, looks closely at cow-bulls, talks to veterinarians, and participates in animal anatomy classes to understand how humans understand cows.
Miguel A. López (Lima, 1983) is a writer, researcher, and Co-Director and Chief Curator of TEOR/éTica, Costa Rica. His work investigates collaborative dynamics and feminist rearticulations of art and culture in Latin America in recent decades. He is the author of Ficciones disidentes en la tierra de la misoginia (Pesopluma, 2019).
Ausangate: (Apu Awsanqati) is a mountain of the Vilcanota mountain range in the Andes of Peru. With an elevation of 6,384 metres, it is situated around 100 kilometres southeast of Cusco in the Cusco Region, Canchis Province, Pitumarca District, and in the Quispicanchi Province, Ocongate District. The mountain has significance in Incan mythology and contemporary culture. Every year the Quyllur Rit'i (Quechua for 'star snow') festival which attracts thousands of Quechua pilgrims is celebrated about 20 km north of the Ausangate at the mountain Qullqipunku. It takes place one week before the Corpus Christi feast. The region is inhabited by llama and alpaca herding communities, and constitutes one of the few remaining pastoralist societies in the world. High mountain trails are used by local herders to trade with agricultural communities at lower elevations. Currently, one of these trails, 'the road of the Apu Ausangate', is one of the most renowned treks in Peru. The area has four major geological features, the Andean uplift formed by Granits, the hanging glaciers and glacial erosional valleys, the Permian formation with its singular colors: red, ochre, and turquoise and the Cretaceous, limestone forests.