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Mobility and Migration in Indigenous Amazonia

Mobility and Migration in Indigenous Amazonia: Contemporary Ethnoecological Perspectives

Edited by Miguel N. Alexiades
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Mobility and Migration in Indigenous Amazonia
    Book Description:

    Contrary to ingrained academic and public assumptions, wherein indigenous lowland South American societies are viewed as the product of historical emplacement and spatial stasis, there is widespread evidence to suggest that migration and displacement have been the norm, and not the exception. This original and thought-provoking collection of case studies examines some of the ways in which migration, and the concomitant processes of ecological and social change, have shaped and continue to shape human-environment relations in Amazonia. Drawing on a wide range of historical time frames (from pre-conquest times to the present) and ethnographic contexts, different chapters examine the complex and important links between migration and the classification, management, and domestication of plants and landscapes, as well as the incorporation and transformation of environmental knowledge, practices, ideologies and identities.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-907-9
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Editor’s Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    Miguel N. Alexiades
  6. Chapter 1 Mobility and Migration in Indigenous Amazonia: Contemporary Ethnoecological Perspectives – an Introduction
    (pp. 1-44)
    Miguel N. Alexiades

    A diverse group of scholars have, in recent decades, been challenging many of the stereotypes that have for a long time permeated scientific and public representations of Amazonia and its people. These new insights support the notion of Amazonian social and ecological systems as dialectically interrelated, and as more complex, diverse, historically contingent and dynamic across multiple spatial and temporal horizons, than was previously thought.¹

    This heightened historical sensitivity, shared by human ecologists, ethnoecologists, ethnobotanists and others interested in human–environment relations, does not extend equally to all domains of socio-environmental experience, however. In particular, there seems to be a...

  7. Part I. Circulations:: Mobility, Subsistence and the Environment

    • Chapter 2 Towards an Understanding of the Huaorani Ways of Knowing and Naming Plants
      (pp. 47-68)
      Laura Rival

      Given the unprecedented loss of biological, linguistic and cultural diversity in the world today (Maffi 2001), the documentation of the biological and ecological knowledge of food collectors and crop planters has become a matter of urgency. Authors who have recognised the importance of documenting folk biology models in regions of high diversity (particularly in Amazonia) have called for a new approach to ethnobiology.¹ It is not enough to document how things are named and how named things are classified (Kohn 2002; Lenaerts 2004), although such activities are still considered to be central to how people come to know nature (Berlin...

    • Chapter 3 The Restless Life of the Nahua: Shaping People and Places in the Peruvian Amazon
      (pp. 69-85)
      Conrad Feather

      One morning during my first stay with the Nahua, an Amazonian people of southeast Peru, I woke to see Shico, the father of my household, heading off to the river with a bunch of bananas and a machete. I asked where he was going and waving casually he said, ‘Puerto Maldonado’, a town over three weeks away by foot and raft. ‘When will you be back?’ I asked. ‘Oh, one year, maybe two,’ he said, and with that he was off, parting from his wife and two small children. Four days later Shico returned; he had forgotten to take enough...

    • Chapter 4 Urban, Rural and In-between: Multi-sited Households Mobility and Resource Management in the Amazon Flood Plain
      (pp. 86-96)
      Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez and Christine Padoch

      Rural Amazonians, especially theribereños/ribeirinhosorcaboclos¹ that live on the region’s great flood plains (várzeas), move frequently. The mobility of people, impermanence of communities and transience of economic opportunities in Amazonia have been mentioned by many scholars and documented for several communities in both Brazil and Peru (Padoch and de Jong 1990; Nugent 1993; Chibnik 1994; Newing, this volume). In response to and mirroring the ephemerality of their riverbanks and watercourses, as well as of agricultural fields and agroforests, markets and labour opportunities,várzeahouseholds in the Amazon basin have long been ready to move, dismantling houses, dispersing communities...

    • Chapter 5 Unpicking ‘Community’ in Community Conservation: Implications of Changing Settlement Patterns and Individual Mobility for the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Communal Reserve, Peru
      (pp. 97-114)
      Helen Newing

      Perhaps the core premise of community conservation is that people who have permanent, exclusive rights to land and resources are more likely to manage resources sustainably in the long term (McCay and Acheson 1987; Acheson 1989; Oglethorpe 1990; Ostrom 1990; Lynch and Alcorn 1994; Hanna et al. 1996). Such an approach is based on a clear definition of those who hold permanent or long-term resource rights to a specific area. However, mobility and migration – the subject of this book – represent a basic challenge for this approach. Rural communities are not fixed, bounded entities; they move in location, change in composition...

  8. Part II. Transformations:: Knowledge, Identity, Place-Making and the Domestication of Nature

    • Chapter 6 Domestication of Peach Palm (Bactris gasipaes): the Roles of Human Mobility and Migration
      (pp. 117-140)
      Charles R. Clement, Laura Rival and David M. Cole

      The domestication of plant populations and landscapes set the stage for the expansion of humans over the last 10,000 years (Bellwood 2005). Given the speed with which agricultural peoples expanded their populations and territories, it is curious that the roles of human mobility and migration have not been included more explicitly in definitions and discussions of domestication, although Diamond and Bellwood (2003) have recently presented a hypothesis to explain the migration of agricultural peoples, their crops and their languages. We believe that mobility is just as important, although on a local scale. In this short chapter we shall try to...

    • Chapter 7 Intermediation, Ethnogenesis and Landscape Transformation at the Intersection of the Andes and the Amazon: the Historical Ecology of the Lecos of Apolo, Bolivia
      (pp. 141-166)
      Meredith Dudley

      Strategically located at the intersection of the Andes and the Amazon, the piedmont region of Apolo, Bolivia, is an interactive frontier in which indigenous communities have long been transformed by the movement of persons, resources and cultural practices between thealtiplano(Andean high plateau) and the tropical lowlands. Drawing on recent ethnographic research, I shall discuss the history of the Lecos people indigenous to this region, changes to Lecos identity and mobility and resulting transformation of ecological relations. Different forms of mobility that have affected the Lecos include locally situated seasonal movements associated with subsistence activities, as well as involvement...

    • Chapter 8 The Political Ecology of Ethnic Frontiers and Relations among the Piaroa of the Middle Orinoco
      (pp. 167-194)
      Stanford Zent

      Until very recently, South American rainforest Indians were portrayed either as timeless, bounded and atomistic societies adapted intimately to their natural surroundings or as historically altered, deculturated and marginalised groups corrupted by colonial or global agents. This dichotomous viewpoint has been overturned by a spate of new studies that have emphasised dynamic processes of ethnogenesis and identity construction, historically situated strategies of resistance and accommodation to shifting environmental forces, the complex interplay of political, economic and cultural factors operating at different scales, and the creative collective consciousness and representations of local groups in the process of their (re)formation (Hill 1996,...

    • Chapter 9 ‘Ordenar El Pensamiento’: Place-Making and the Moral Management of Resources in a Multi-Ethnic Territory, Amazonas, Colombia
      (pp. 195-219)
      Giovanna Micarelli

      Ecological, ethnobiological and archaeological research over the past two decades has revealed that the Amazonian region is to a great extent a mosaic of anthropogenic landscapes with high biocultural diversity, resulting from continuing and sophisticated human practices and longstanding occupation of the environment (Alexiades, this volume; Roosevelt 1980; Posey and Balée 1989; Denevan 1992; Moran 1993; Reichel- Dolmatoff 1996; Balée 1998; Linares 2000; Heckenberger 2005). These findings highlight the need to examine the motivations underlying human resource management practices in Amazonia, and to ask how the local environment becomes constitutive of people’s experience of themselves and others (Appadurai 1996; Basso...

    • Chapter 10 Plants ‘of the Ancestors’, Plants ‘of the Outsiders’: Ese Eja History, Migration and Medicinal Plants
      (pp. 220-248)
      Miguel N. Alexiades and Daniela M. Peluso

      In their preface toThe Healing Forest, Schultes and Raffauf (1990: 9) remark how indigenous pharmacopoeias have been accumulated through ‘experimentation over centuries by people living in intimate association with their environment and wholly dependent on their ambient flora and fauna for the necessities and ameliorants of life’. The view of indigenous medicinal plant knowledge as largely empirically based and archaic is widespread among ethnobotanists (see also Voeks, this volume). The Ese Eja,² an indigenous group of people living in southwestern Amazonia in the border areas between Peru and Bolivia, have an elaborate and diverse pharmacopoeia of plant, animal and...

    • Chapter 11 Weaving Power: Displacement and the Dynamics of Basketry Knowledge amongst the Kaiabi in the Brazilian Amazon
      (pp. 249-274)
      Simone Ferreira de Athayde, Aturi Kaiabi, Katia Yukari Ono and Miguel N. Alexiades

      The Kaiabi are a Tupi-Guarani speaking people who originally occupied several tributaries of the Tapajós river in the southern Brazilian Amazon. In light of an imminent government-sponsored agricultural colonisation scheme into the area, and in order to minimise conflicts with rubber tappers and settlers, the Brazilian federal government relocated the Kaiabi several hundred kilometres to the south-east, to what is now the Xingu Indigenous Park (see Grünberg 2004). While most Kaiabi relocated to Xingu between 1950 and 1966, two smaller groups refused to leave and still live in their ancestral territory, one in Rio dos Peixes and the other along...

    • Chapter 12 Traditions in Transition: African Diaspora Ethnobotany in Lowland South America
      (pp. 275-294)
      Robert Voeks

      Most ethnobotanical narratives, whether stated or implied, assume that mature knowledge profiles are the outcome of long-term residence and gradual cognitive familiarity with the floristic environment. Particularly in the tropical realm, where biological diversity is extreme and plant frequency is low, the ability to recognise, label, categorise and especially learn the material and spiritual values of individual plant species is taken to be a glacially slow process. Accordingly, it is widely assumed that immigrant populations are wholly (or nearly so) ignorant of the surrounding flora and its various properties. This dualistic view of native and diaspora communities has created a...

  9. Index
    (pp. 295-310)