Other pages in this section

Lessons from Urban Indigenous Immigrants: Integrated Social & Ecological Dynamics of Informal Communities

Image of Peruvian Rainforest

Increased resource extraction, changing climates, and socio-political pressures are causing global ecological decline, forcing mass migration of indigenous peoples to urbanized areas all around the world. Many find themselves living in informal urban slum settlements and facing health issues alongside discrimination towards their indigenous identities. The struggle of urban assimilation often results in the fading of traditional practices and knowledge, and their associated health supporting human-nature connections. However, the most neglected informal indigenous immigrant communities, left to their own self-management, often find ways to continue traditional lifestyles that provide valuable ecosystem services to urban areas and creative adaptation strategies to urban and ecological forces such as increased flooding caused by climate change. 

This project will study and compare an informal self-managed indigenous immigrant community still adopting traditional practices in Iquitos, Peru to a similar indigenous immigrant community nearby that developed with social and political pressures to colonially urbanize and leave traditional practices behind. We use an innovative, mixed-methods approach by combining indigenous knowledge, science and art to document environmental conditions, ecosystem health, traditional knowledge practices, and human-nature connections in each community. We adopt a co-created cross-epistemological community science program, with reciprocal training between university and community scientists, resulting in a series of illustrative advocacy tools to provide urban planning guidance to the local government in Iquitos while advocating for indigenous immigrant communities wishing to continue traditional practices all around the world. 

Research Team:
Leann Andrews, PhD, RLA, Affiliate Assistant Professor, UW Department of Landscape Architecture 
Gemina Garland-Lewis, Socio-Environmental Photographer, UW Center for One Health Research 
Ursula Valdez, PhD, Lecturer and Tropical Avian Ecologist, UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts + Sciences 
Kathleen Wolf, PhD, Research Social Scientist, UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
Juan Noa Tunama, Community Leader, informal community of Claverito
Carlo Tapia del Aguila, Herpetologist, Centro de Investigaciones, Technologicas, Biomedicas y Medioambientales 
Susana Cubas Poclin, Ornithologist, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana
Christian Ampudia Gatty, Entomologist, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana
Coco Alarcon, PhD Student in Implementation Science, UW School of Public Health