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Lake Itasca. Image courtesy of Sara Černe.

Indigenizing Environmental Thinking

we asked people to respond to the following prompt: As we face environmental challenges, such as climate change, extraction economies, (over)development, loss of habitats and ecosystems, pollution, and other harms, what might Indigenous ways of knowing offer to address these global concerns? How might Indigenizing and/or decolonizing our methodologies transform higher education teaching and research?

Children swinging on the pond’s banyan tree. Image courtesy of the author.

The Gift of Water

India today faces a wide variety of issues related to water management. These include flooding during the several-month monsoon season, a lack of water during the dry season, depletion of groundwater stores, and unreliable water pipelines bringing water into cities…

Sunrise at El Mirador, Guatemala. This was one of the largest cities in the Americas about 2000 years ago. Now it's located in one of the largest "virgin" forests in Central America. Image courtesy of the author.

An Archaeologist Writes against the Anthropocene

Much of what archaeologists do is study how humans adapt to the environment. After Gordon Willey’s (1953) groundbreaking investigation into the entire history of occupation of a small valley in Peru, understanding how humans lived in and modified their environment became commonplace. Indeed, the “New Archeology” that took the American academy by storm in the 1960s and strove to make the discipline more scientific made human-environment interactions and the understanding of human-environmental relations one of its central goals…

Detail from a panoramic photograph of Nacimiento. Photograph courtesy of C. R. Chiriboga.

Water and the Preclassic Maya at El Tintal, Petén, Guatemala

As part of the 1931 Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Uaxactun expedition, geologist C.W. Cooke (1931: 286) noted, “If the bajos were restored to their former condition, the Petén would be a region of many beautiful lakes. Travel in it would be easy, for one could go from place to place by boat, with only short journeys overland, from one lake to another, across country that offers little impediment to travel at any season.” These bajos mentioned by Cooke, low-lying swampy areas prone to flooding, are spread throughout most of the northern lowlands of Petén, Guatemala, characterizing the region with seasonal and perennial wetland systems.

A modern groundwater well in an ancient depression. Q'eqchi' farmers are taking advantage of ancient landscape practices for their own subsistence. Image courtesy of Alexander Rivas.

Ethnography and Archaeology of Water in the Maya Lowlands

Procuring potable water is an important factor for daily life in the semitropics, especially for contemporary populations in rural Guatemala. Seasonal subsistence practices are crucial for survival, especially regarding agriculture, droughts, and flooding. This article focuses on the Salinas de los Nueve Cerros region in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala to highlight contemporary land-use practices among the Q’eqchi’ Maya, their adaptations to flooding, droughts, and uses of different water resources.