Post-Grant Reports


Trujillo Ethnobotany and Arequipa Solar Energy Projects

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Anthropology | Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources and Conservation | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sustainability


The combination of Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant and Faculty Development Grant funds enabled me to work closely in northern Peru in summer 2015 with three Linfield students to provide key support for the ongoing efforts of a project to document and foster traditional ethno-medical practices, as well as to take first steps on a potentially NSF-fundable solar energy research project in southwestern Peru.

The focus of this project was on solar hot water, as this technology (unlike solar photovoltaics (PVs), it appears) actually saves about 30% of a typical household energy bill. I was able to interview the leading manufacturer of solar hot water systems in Arequipa and consult with a colleague and his students at the Universidad Nacional San Agustín about a summer 2016 joint household survey of solar hot water uses and understandings. The emerging project is focused on solar energy production and consumption in Arequipa, and it has me especially interested as a case study within the emerging paradigm of “energopolitics”1 since Arequipa features world class insulation that has been harnessed both in bottom-up solar thermal projects (since the 1940s we think), as well as more recently a huge top-down solar PV project there – the largest PV array to date in Latin America (44 megawatts). There is wonderful ethnographic work ahead on how these two systems are being developed, portrayed, and understood – all in the context of Peru’s complex sociopolitical history about which I have written and investigated for several decades.

1 Boyer, Dominic. (2014). Energopower: An Introduction. Anthropological Quarterly 87(2): 309-334.


This research was conducted as part of a Linfield College Faculty Development Grant in 2015, funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

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