Owning Climate Change Among the Makushi and Akawaio

This chapter examines perceptions and ontologies concerning climatic changes in the Makushi villages of Surama and Yupukari and in the Akawaio village of Kamarang/Warawatta in Guyana. In 2021, these villages experienced reportedly unprecedented flooding that severely disrupted cassava-based agriculture and was attributed by many villagers to climate change. In addition to flooding, villagers also report recent seasonal irregularities, such as unpredictable rainfall and increased temperature. For many, traditional survival strategies, such as past responses to droughts and other crises, are no longer seen as fully addressing contemporary climatic and ecological challenges. This chapter will examine accounts and experiences of changing ecological conditions and explore related ontologies. In this chapter, the term “ontologies” refers to divergent realities (particularly concerning the plethora of beings locally posited within the landscape) and contrasting phenomenological experiences. For many Makushi and Akawaio people, weather phenomena are centered around animistic notions of “ownership” in the historical–ecological landscape which implicate non-human beings. In this context, ownership refers to a relational mode through which aspects of the landscape are controlled, protected, and sometimes nurtured. Landscape-centered ontologies foreground relational modes, such as ownership, that hold ongoing relevance for climate change among the Makushi and Akawaio in Guyana.

Full Text

Publisher's official version
16563 Ko
How to cite
Whitaker James Andrew (2024). Owning Climate Change Among the Makushi and Akawaio. In Climatic and Ecological Change in the Americas. A Perspective from Historical Ecology. 2023. James Andrew Whitaker, Chelsey Geralda Armstrong, and Guillaume Odonne (Eds). DOI 10.4324/9781003316497 , ISBN 9781003316497. Chap.12 pp.213-228. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003316497-13, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00891/100274/

Copy this text