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Department of Social Anthropology


Senior Research Seminar with Dr Casey High (University of Edinburgh)

Translating Worlds and Defending Land in Amazonian Ecuador

Based on fieldwork with Waorani communities in Ecuador, I explore emergent forms of collaboration that are becoming central social and political life in contemporary Amazonia. For an increasingly cosmopolitan generation of Waorani adults, working closely with academic researchers and international environmentalists brings new possibilities, challenges and imaginative horizons. As they become researchers and internationally recognized environmental leaders, these collaborations involve translating across different ideas of land, life, and what it means to be indigenous Amazonian people. In a contemporary world premised as much on political solidarity between indigenous people and outsiders as ideas of difference, translating indigenous concepts into the language of nature, culture and environmentalism allows them to engage a wider scale of social and political of relations well beyond their home villages, Ecuador, or Amazonia. These translations reveal more than a simple contrast between Western and indigenous concepts; they indicate how living, working and speaking across such differences is integral to protecting their lands from extractive economies. I suggest that these engagements allow for critical reflection on how we might conceptualize collaboration – and its limits - anthropologically.

Friday, 21 October, 2022 - 16:15 to 18:00
Event location: 
Lecture Theatre A, Arts School