The Unequal Ocean

Living with Environmental Change along the Peruvian Coast

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Based on a decade of ethnographic and archival research in Peru, this volume reveals how prevailing representations of the ocean obscure racialized disparities and the ways that different people experience the impacts of the climate crisis.

Tackling important subjects of global concern, the author presents a complex image of Peru’s global seascapes as historical spaces comprising precarious worlds that expose people, nonhuman species, and places to unequal levels of harm. He traces how powerful actors in Peru represent the ocean in ways that erase the systemic inequalities, histories of uneven development, and extractive violence that have shaped ocean life. These erasures underscore the need for alternative representations of the ocean that highlight the engagements and commitments that make oceanic ecologies possible, as well as the material relationships and unequal positions of different people and species within them.

The author analyzes a multitude of timely topics, including waves and coastal development, the circulation of ocean waste, El Niño warming events, and the extraction of jumbo squid. This book also addresses expanding scholarly interest in the world’s oceans as sites for thinking about social inequities, environmental politics, and multispecies relationships.
“This book explores how climate change and environmental change are experienced by coastal residents of Peru. It explores how race and class affect ordinary peoples’ experience of environmental crisis, focusing on surfing and coastlines, plastic and other waste, ENSO events/mudflows and floods, and fishing for giant squid. It is clearly written and synthetic, and [it] gives an excellent situated description of global environmental change and racial/class politics, nicely addressing the limitations of some of the climate change literature.”—Andrew S. Mathews, author of Instituting Nature: Authority, Expertise, and Power in Mexican Forests

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