Embodied Territoriality: Towards a Practice of Radical Kinship and Care
MA Environmental Architecture
Royal College of Art
In my final research project, ‘Embodied Territoriality: Towards a practice of radical kinship and care,’ I explored the ways in which Andean practices and traditions of care and reciprocity equate to assertions of sovereignty, environmental justice and stewardship.
I have established two conceptualisations of territory in the context of Atacama: territory as a score – inscribed with abstract lines that make up the arena of relations, and territory as a verb – something actively practised and embodied. This illustrates two perspectives: one that is determined by the colonial view from above on the one hand, and on the other – a multi-perspectival position that is at once situated, temporal and sensorial. The former – an attempt to control through abstraction, and the latter – as a practised, embodied reality of Atacameño people.
Indigenous practices and traditions of territoriality are social and multi-dimensional. Land, water, living and non-living entities are both solid in themselves and in relation to one another. Through subverting the line as a claim to territory, Atacameño ways of relating to their environment emphasise the lived, the practised, the laboured, the chanted, or as I argue – the ‘embodied.’ To borrow from Felix Guattari’s thinking in ‘Three Ecologies,’ understanding territoriality as embodied, is to insist on ‘hybrid awareness’ which involves mental, social and environmental sensitivity. To recognise the pachamama (mother earth) as a spatiotemporal agent in the web of life is to resist the alienation of resource extraction by encouraging biodiverse perspectives.
During this research, I unpacked how such expanded understanding of territoriality manifests spatially; and how the seemingly ephemeral, yet spatially grounded practices of territoriality can translate as strategies towards a framework of kinship, radical environmental care and resistance in Atacama and beyond.