Ixchel: Building understanding of the physical, cultural and socio-economic drivers of risk for strengthening resilience in the Guatemalan cordillera

2021 - ongoing

Project status: Ongoing

Funded by: UKRI - Natural Environment Research Council – Global Challenges Research Fund

Ixchel is a collaborative and interdisciplinary project that brings together approaches in the physical sciences, social sciences and humanities and aims to improve resilience to hazards and disasters in Guatemala by developing rigorous multi-hazard assessments, and by embedding Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) within human rights frameworks. The project’s distinctive features include in-depth long-term participatory and ethnographic work with communities, and engagement with Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and an in-depth understanding of existing disaster scholarship. The capstone output of this project will be a docunovela, a televised series produced in collaboration with local mediamakers.

The project investigates multi-hazards associated with mass flows, namely landslides, debris flows and volcanic pyroclastic flows, that occur in the Guatemalan cordillera. This is a 3 year project (2020-2023) led by the University of Edinburgh collaborating with the University of East Anglia, University of Bristol, University of Liverpool, Northumbria University, and the British Geological Survey, to work with investigators from four Guatemalan Universities as well as over 20 partners and indigenous communities.

UEA is leading the work around understanding landscape and experiences of risk and using participatory action research approaches will bring together several strands including: people and territory, landscape and livelihoods, risks associated with the ‘territory’, evolving landscapes, and maps. Forms of material visual culture, including photographs, cartography, embroidery, drawings and collages, produced through community participatory approaches, will be used to close the distance between often-remote decision makers and those in rural communities that live with multiple hazards and risks in their everyday lives. These research activities will result in a co-curated exhibition that will serve as an output for collective artistic and mapping praxis and to synthesise the work across many project WPs.

Project team:

Teresa Armijos (PI), UEA

Cristina Sala, UEA

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