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Vitality, peace and happiness: an ethnography of the Waorani notion of 'living well' and its contemporary challenges along oil roads

Bravo Diaz, Andrea; (2020) Vitality, peace and happiness: an ethnography of the Waorani notion of 'living well' and its contemporary challenges along oil roads. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This research explores the Waorani notion of waponi kewemonipa (living well). The Waorani are indigenous people from Ecuadorian Amazonia. The anthropological fieldwork that informs this thesis was carried out among Waorani people living in settlements along oil roads, a particular milieu which is highlighted by Waorani as a contemporary marker of intraethnic difference. In this context, I investigate how the Waorani conceptualize and perform their living well, and how they respond to contemporary challenges, notably: liquor-related conflicts, oil-related pollution and inequalities for accessing external resources. Thus, this research endeavour is a contribution to the growing literature on Amazonian notions of living well and wellbeing. Chapter 1 introduces the notion of living well and its main dimensions which are further explored in relation to: health and vitality (chapter 2), environment and infrastructures (chapter 3), livelihoods (chapter 4), relations with the encroaching society (chapter 5), death and engagement with social media (chapter 6). Peaceful conviviality and collective happiness are at the core of the Waorani living well, these ideals require healthy people and abundance of resources for sharing among those who live together. Both health and abundance imply the constant replenishment of vitality, which I call the generative dimension of living well. There is also an ecological dimension: the Waorani relate living well with the forest of plenty as opposed to the road of “heat” and noise. Strategies for living well include aspects as varied as: opening of new settlements far from the roads, promoting football tournaments, State public services, and for some even new Christian conversions. But overall, what Sahlins called the hunter-gatherer ‘Zen road to affluence’, is ubiquitously present among the Waorani, and it has a background of laughter, encouraged through the narrative style anka totamonapa (how much we laughed) and other forms of collective happiness.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Vitality, peace and happiness: an ethnography of the Waorani notion of 'living well' and its contemporary challenges along oil roads
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10094553
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