The book’s strength lies in situating today’s mining conflicts in a longer history of socioenvironmental change and rural-to-urban displacement. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the Atacama, mining communities, and environmental destruction.
In Embracing the Anaconda, Anita Carrasco offers a clearly written and personal ethnography about people, mining, and water in the high desert of northern Chile. Carrasco is a Chilean anthropologist whose father was a mining geologist and who spent part of her childhood in a Chilean mining town. In this book she describes her Ph.D. dissertation research in another Chilean mining region farther north: the world-famous Chuquicamata copper mine and city of Calama. Her focus is on communities of indigenous people called Atacameños (although the meaning of the term is disputed), who had to adapt their agricultural and pastoral ways of life and uses of water to the impacts of large-scale industrial mining development from the early 1900s....She introduces and weaves in theoretical concepts and debates in anthropology and related fields, but she has a light touch and keeps those passages brief.