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Dynamics of nutrition and vulnerability: ethnographic insights from Cusco, Peru
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 13:35 authored by Freya Saich
Over the past two decades Peru has undergone rapid economic and social transformations producing significant declines in rates of chronic malnutrition. Although malnutrition continues to persist in some Andean regions, communities have nonetheless experienced a decline in overall hunger and are consuming a wider variety of foodstuffs. Despite this, anthropological attention to nutritional issues has lessened since the mid-1990s. Based on ethnographic research conducted in the Andean Department of Cusco, this thesis demonstrates that peasant communities and their diet are in a state of transition. Local perceptions indicate that the increased access to and consumption of a wider variety of foods is a result of the growing modernisation of communities. However, this transition is incomplete. Communities remain situated between the demands of a peasant lifestyle and the encroaching changes associated with modernisation. Peasants describe how these demands place different pressures on food selection and indicate how food allocation and consumption practices stand at the forefront of this disjuncture between the past and the present. This thesis offers a holistic understanding of the Andean diet and, in particular, the forces shaping malnutrition in school aged children. From an applied perspective, research findings will assist in developing culturally congruent and locally specific nutritional interventions for families in the region.