In this article I present the social life of camarones, a Peruvian river crustacean used in some of the region’s favorite dishes, and the liminal space they occupy in the geography, minds, and ecosystem of Peru and its people. I situate the relationship between these crawfish and the folks who capture them, known as camaroneros, within insights of environmental anthropologists and food scholars who also explore the connections between cultural and biological diversity and the entangled socio-ecological histories that inform the manner in which nature is mediated and understood by local societies. In this article, however, I expand this understanding to reveal unexpected spaces of engagement, especially those that emerge while eating, which tend to be overlooked by bounded notions of culture and nature and limit the ways we can imagine human-nature relationships. Via the story of camarones and camaroneros of one river valley of Peru, I argue that eating is a socio-ecological act that is imbued with profound cultural meanings involving a wide range of participants—not just farmers or producers—each with their own ecological identities yet still implicitly linked to one another through the process of producing, preparing, and consuming food.
When the Rainbows Bring the Crawfish
V. Constanza Ocampo-Raeder is an environmental anthropologist interested in exploring the unexpected connections between society, culture, and local ecological dynamics. Her work in Peru focuses on how the food movement has reconfigured human-nature relationships in the production of coveted food items. She is currently Assistant Professor at Carleton College.
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V. Constanza Ocampo-Raeder; When the Rainbows Bring the Crawfish. Gastronomica 1 May 2021; 21 (2): 90–101. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2021.21.2.90
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