Sumaq Kawsay, Allin Kawsay: Conceptions of Well-Being among Quechua Female Vendors in the Face of Change in Chinchero, Peru
Delgado, Andrea L.
The small town of Chinchero in the highlands of Cusco, Peru is a popular tourist stop known for its rich tradition of handmade textiles and weaving techniques. The female weavers and vendors in Chinchero have developed a competitive market of Textile Centers that sell an aestheticized and commercialized tradition to tourists. The quaint town is now faced with plans to build the new Chinchero International Airport, which would become the largest airport in Peru. This thesis analyzes ethnographic findings from 2017 to examine how the female vendors of Chinchero perceive the airport will affect—and already has affected—their well-being. Well-being is measured both subjectively through understandings of the Quechua term sumaq kawsay and objectively through a life satisfaction scale ranked from 1 to 10. In their explanations, the women expressed values of community, reciprocal relationships, and environmental harmony that they believe they are still upholding in their peaceful lives. However, they identify the airport as a direct threat to these pillars of sumaq kawsay with the project’s impending urbanization, pollution, increased traffic, and heightened economic competition. Although the airport project has been postponed for four decades due to corruption and political conflicts, the vendors have already adapted their economic activities and discourses. Overall, this thesis contributes to discussions of the effects of unfinished megaprojects—absent presences—and to anthropological studies of well-being.