Volcanoes, one of the most sublime forces of nature, have had an immense impact on human settlements throughout history, all the way from Pompeii to Antigua Guatemala. Despite the dramatic devastation wreaked by volcanoes, we have always felt both fear and attraction to them. Many people live in close proximity to volcanoes, in different countries all around the globe, from Indonesia to Japan, the Philippines, Italy, and many countries in America, including Guatemala. This is because, beyond the short-term damage caused by volcanoes, in the long run, volcanic areas become some of the most fertile landscapes on earth, shaping neighbouring societies and cultures in many different ways. Volcanoes are a source of water, and they also provide nutrients to the surrounding soil. People use this soil on volcanic flanks to create astonishingly rich agricultural lands. In addition, volcanoes are a source of building materials, as demonstrated by the many human settlements built with volcanic deposits, such as basalt or diabase.

In 2018, the AA Guatemala Visiting School is offering A Volcano Journey. We will explore how volcanoes are shaping Guatemalan cities, society, culture and economy, from a large to a micro scale. Based on this insight, we will look ahead and reflect on possible future projects and initiatives to foster local development and economy. With this aim, we will suggest new forms of sustainable tourism, new infrastructure, or urban and architectural interventions. We will travel to different volcanoes, providing for an intense first-hand experience of the existing agricultural production or tourism activity. We will meet and interview local people, collect data and make videos and take photos with drones. Eventually, we will produce a Digital Atlas, creating online maps that will dynamically illustrate our analyses and proposals in this constantly changing landscape. Different lectures and conferences will take place throughout the entire workshop, articulating and reporting on the work underway, and discussing the different topics addressed.


Where and when?

The 10-day workshop will be held from the 2 to the 11 July 2018, at two different locations. The meeting point for all participants will be Guatemala City, from whence the group will travel to Antigua Guatemala. This is where we will establish a 7-day base camp, from whence we will conduct all field trips, traveling to different volcanic areas. We will climb up the Pacaya volcano and visit the areas close to the Acatenango volcano and the Agua volcano, and more. After our stay in Antigua, the workshop will continue with a 3-day stay in Guatemala City, at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM) campus’ facilities, where we will develop different proposals based on the previous analyses and insights.

Satellite Image: Agua volcano, Guatemala. (Source: Google Earth 2017)