John Hicks

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Illinois, Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9411

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Hicks, John J., U. of Illinois, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Volcanism and Vulnerability in the Early Colonial Period Agricultural Landscape of the South-Central Andes,' supervised by Dr. Patrick R. Williams

Preliminary abstract: The AD 1600 eruption of Huaynaputina, located in southern Peru, was one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. It lasted two weeks, buried at least ten villages, and killed nearly 1,500 people. The region’s population and economy took decades to recover. While powerful, the eruption alone did not cause the catastrophic losses of life and destruction of property. Such hazards are part of the natural landscape, becoming true disasters only when pre-existing cultural conditions make people more vulnerable to the negative effects of natural events and constrain their ability to recover. In modern disaster research, investigators look at how combinations of natural and sociocultural features determine a group’s level of vulnerability. My project adopts this approach to examine how the introduction of Spanish administrative and economic practices during the Early Colonial Period (ca. AD 1532-1650) altered the relationships between indigenous farming communities and the landscape, affecting their levels of vulnerability and options for recovery after the Huaynaputina eruption. The investigation will reconstruct the region’s pre-1600 agricultural landscape and track its changes over the following decades using a combination of remote sensing, archaeological excavations, drone-based aerial photography, and geochemical analysis of soils. The project focuses on two agricultural regions impacted by the eruption: Cochuna, which was occupied during both pre-Colonial and Colonial times, and Mimilaque, which had been abandoned before the eruption. The result will be a comparative, multi-scalar analysis of how vulnerability built up among indigenous farming communities in the years leading up to the eruption and how they adapted to a changed landscape.