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"No Podemos Comer Billetes": Climate Change and Development in Southern Ecuador

DePaoli, Lisa Coffield (2012) "No Podemos Comer Billetes": Climate Change and Development in Southern Ecuador. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This project investigates the relationship between autochthonous people and immigrants in a valley of southern Ecuador, specifically in terms of climate change and related moves toward sustainable development. The landscape and environment are frequent topics of conversation, especially concerning the increasingly dry climate. Engagements between individuals often result in dynamic relationships in which people take active steps to curtail human impacts, such as developing new land-use and livelihood strategies.

Southern Ecuador has historically experienced the effects of periodic drought, and land degradation is exacerbating the problem. This and other factors, including the relative isolation and lack of rural development in Loja province and the overall economic situation in Ecuador, has resulted in large-scale migration of Ecuadorians from the province of Loja. Paradoxically, the valley in which fieldwork was carried out is also known as the Valley of Longevity and has attracted immigrants from various other countries. Some of these expatriates have lived in the valley for long periods of time and have developed working relationships with Ecuadorians that have proved beneficial in terms of development.

This dissertation is the result of 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork that included participant observation, formal and informal interviews, and the analysis of written materials. The project focused specifically on how the local-nonlocal relationship impacts livelihoods, land use change, sustainability, and the perception of and attention to issues surrounding climate change. These themes help us to understand the distributional consequences of changes in agri-food systems, and have led to concern over where food is going to come from because, as some informants have said, “no podemos comer billetes” (we can’t eat dollar bills). Research shows that the social heterogeneity of the valley fosters mutual learning and benefits and contributes to more varied views of the natural environment and of the use of natural resources. This project demonstrates how responses to climate change and land degradation may be integrated into emerging sustainable development strategies, particularly important because human activity will both drive and mediate the impact of climate change during the next century.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
DePaoli, Lisa
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairScaglion, Richardscaglion@pitt.eduSCAGLION
Committee MemberCordero, María-Auxiliadoramcordero@pitt.eduMCORDERO
Committee MemberRichardson,
Committee MemberStrathern, Andrewstrather@pitt.eduSTRATHER
Committee MemberAbbott, Markmabbott1@pitt.eduMABBOTT1
Date: 31 January 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 October 2011
Approval Date: 31 January 2012
Submission Date: 13 December 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 294
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ecological anthropology, sustainability, human-environment relations, agriculture, agroecology, social movements
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2012 19:37
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:55


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