Resistance in an Amazonian Community

Resistance in an Amazonian Community: Huaorani Organizing against the Global Economy

Lawrence Ziegler-Otero
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 188
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  • Book Info
    Resistance in an Amazonian Community
    Book Description:

    Like many other indigenous groups, the Huaorani of eastern Ecuador are facing many challenges as they attempt to confront the globalization of capitalism in the 21st century. In 1991, they formed a political organization as a direct response to the growing threat to Huaorani territory posed by oil exploitation, colonization, and other pressures. The author explores the structures and practices of the organization, as well as the contradictions created by the imposition of an alien and hierarchical organizational form on a traditionally egalitarian society. This study has broad implications for those who work toward "cultural survival" or try to "save the rainforest."

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-203-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    In 1990 the Huaorani people of eastern Ecuador formed theOrganización de las Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonia Ecuatorianaor ONHAE. The group of young, Spanish-literate men who initiated this step wanted an organization that could speak for the Huaorani in dealings with the multinational oil companies, missionaries, and state agencies that were increasingly threatening Huaorani territory and autonomy. In founding a nongovernmental organization (NGO), the Huaorani were emulating the organizational processes of the Shuar (Jívaro), Quichua, and Siona-Secoya groups, and joining with them in provincial, regional, and national confederations. This represented a dramatic step outside of Huaorani cultural practices...

  5. Chapter 1 History and Background
    (pp. 25-74)

    The Huaorani cannot be discussed without an understanding of the multiple contexts of their environment. The origins of the Huaorani people and the roots of their culture are unrecorded. Much of the history that we do have is the story of contacts between the Huaorani people and non-Huaorani. Each of these contacts must be understood as collisions which have shaped the trajectory of Huaorani cultural development—a dialectical process of crisis, reaction, and resolution.

    Beyond the natural environment—itself a key factor in the development of Huaorani social organization—the twentieth century evolution of Huaorani cultural practice has taken place...

  6. Chapter 2 Onhae: Structures and Achievements
    (pp. 75-104)

    The organization that is the focus of this work has emerged from a variety of disparate influences. It has thrust the Huaorani into the center of the struggles to preserve tropical rainforests around the world and the struggles to define the future of Ecuadorian and South American political life, as well as the worldwide struggles of indigenous peoples. Yet ONHAE has remained very much a local and a personal organization, dominated by individual personalities, and it has changed policies rapidly under competing pressures from outside forces.

    As indigenous people around the globe have attempted to organize to protect their territories...

  7. Chapter 3 Practice and Praxis: ONHAE in Action
    (pp. 105-141)

    As was previously discussed, ONHAE, like all activist organizations constructed on the basis of a particular racial, ethnic, or cultural group (ethnic entrepreneurship), must operate simultaneously within and across different social/cultural spheres. As a representative organization, its leaders must receive validation from and maintain the respect of the Huaorani community itself in order to preserve the organization’s credibility. At the same time, the central focus of the organization’s founding was to create an intermediary entity—one that could represent the Huaorani people effectively in the context of national (and international) society. In both of these realms respect for the organization...

  8. Chapter 4 Toward an Organizational Evaluation
    (pp. 142-156)

    Perhaps inevitably, ONHAE was formed at a moment of crisis for the Huaorani people. Organizing of any sort takes place only when such urgency is present. The relative stability of the first post-contact decades was breaking down as some Huaorani began to reject the missionary control of their lives, and as the oil companies began to enter their territory in earnest. Previously the Huaorani had responded to perceived threats in one of three ways: violence, as in the famous cases of the killings of missionaries and oil company workers in 1956, 1973, and 1983; avoidance and retreat from the threat,...

  9. Chapter 5 Conclusion
    (pp. 157-165)

    Anthropology has a historic relationship with indigenous peoples. It remains the preeminent discipline in which the problems, cultures, and achievements of the “small peoples” (Lee 2000) are studied, compared, and theorized. Despite the general shift from the study of the peoples of the periphery to those of the metropolitan nations, many anthropologists continue their work with indigenous peoples. But there has been an important change in these projects, as Lee (2000: 3-4) has stated:

    While many if not most Anthros [sic] have moved into the cities and settled there, others continue to work in the jungles of Central America, the...

  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 166-173)
  11. Index
    (pp. 174-176)