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Photo by Tom Pablo, Andes & Amazon Semester.

Faculty Introduction – Sara Diamond

Hi Everyone!

I’m going to be teaching your Regional Seminar course during your 5 week homestay in Urubamba. I have lived, worked in, and studied Amazonian landscapes for over a decade, and am excited to learn more about my favorite places and spaces with you!

As a geographer, I am interested in relationships between spaces, places, and time. As we explore the cultural and environmental history of Peru and Bolivia, these relationships will be emphasized again and again. Since this is a survey course, we will be covering a wide range of materials. We will examine how colonialism and extractive industries have shaped the development of Peru and Bolivia, and how colonial legacies continue to impact identity, economy, and land-use. Together, we will explore topics such as Andean and Amazonian cosmologies, cultural practices that include food, clothing, and child sharing, agricultural and other land use practices, historical and current economies, and social movements that have made Peru and Bolivia what they are today.

My background: In 2001, I spent a semester in Brazil. After the semester ended, I got an internship working in a herpetology lab (and caring for 81 live, venomous snakes) and agricultural research center in Bahia in northeastern Brazil.  I loved living abroad, loved learning a new language, and made life-long friendships. The experience was also isolating and humbling, and expanded my understanding of globalization, privilege, poverty, and generosity. After college, I travelled through India and West Africa for 10 months interning and visiting different sustainable development organizations.

After finishing my Masters in Entomology (ants are amazing), I moved to San Francisco and started consulting for environmental justice and conservation NGO’s. In 2011, I unexpectedly received an offer for a 6 month consulting job down in the Peruvian Amazon (in Madre de Dios). I spoke no Spanish. I had never been to Peru. So I said, ‘sure’. I never made it back to California.

My first day on the job, I met my now husband. Madre de Dios was my home base for almost 2 years, before I decided to return to graduate school in the US. Now based in Austin and 2 children later, work, study, and family keeps us coming back to Peru for extended periods of time.  My current projects focus on power dynamics and participation in natural resource governance. When traveling these days, we try to spend equal time between my work sites in the Amazon (since 2013 I’ve been working with communities in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Communal Reserve area outside of Iquitos), and visiting family in Puno.

You should get your syllabus and course reader soon.

I look forward to meeting you in 4 short weeks!