Devil in the Water, Lights on the Mountain: Anthroposcenes from Andean Peru


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Cultural Anthropology


Below melting glaciers in Peru’s Huaylas Valley, people speak of an Inca city glowing atop a mountain at night, a blond devil lurking in canals, and lakes that petrify shepherds. Through narratives that resist and embrace colonial projects, ecological ruin, and accumulation, storytellers conceptualize global capitalism and their futures in a warming world. And they tell of more than themselves. By juxtaposing the slow ruin of the valley with their own dreams of wealth, storytellers pinpoint the social genesis of planetary destruction, imagining too where and how humanity is bound. Engaging debates about the nonhuman and universality across Andean studies, political ecology, and ecocriticism, this dissertation frames capitalism and storytelling as telluric processes. It argues that social creativity defines yet exceeds the human, causing the climate crisis while also comprising humankind’s hope for survival. For, in the end, the stories people tell shape the fates of species.