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Apiwtxa’s contemporary designs to look after life: a world in the making

Comandulli, Carolina; (2021) Apiwtxa’s contemporary designs to look after life: a world in the making. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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The Ashaninka from Amônia River/Apiwtxa (Acre State, Brazil) belong to the Arawakan indigenous population inhabiting the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon. During the 1980s, they engaged in a struggle to title their territory, combat illegal logging, and abolish the exploitative debt-peonage system. Their land was demarcated in 1992, and since then they have responded to an increasingly challenging scenario by implementing a series of transformations to ensure the continuity of their world, creating ‘designs’ (cf. Escobar 2018) to look after life in their territory and beyond. From a marginalized and little-known community they have become a nationally and internationally acknowledged exemplar of positive change for forest peoples. This thesis explores Apiwtxa’s world-making processes, starting with a reflection on the Ashaninka’s ontology and epistemological practices and their entanglement, and revealing how the Ashaninka managed to transform themselves from victims of the past to designers of their future. Drawing their direction from ‘shamanic visioning’, as well as their leaders’ contacts with the nonindigenous world, they have designed a ‘life plan’ that breaks with their traumatic past and links into Ashaninka ancestral principles, shaping their world in such a way that it may outlast today’s challenging times. This research dialogues with indigenous ontologies, epistemologies, and theories of change (e.g. Blaser 2009; Escobar 2016, 2017; Santos 2016), and with current debates on sustainability and indigenous action (e.g. Brightman and Lewis 2017; Danowski and Viveiros de Castro 2014). It aims to contribute to the corpus of existing ethnological studies on the Arawakan peoples (e.g. Hill and Santos-Granero 2002), focusing on contemporary debates concerning the changes in Ashaninka society, particularly such themes as community organization (e.g. Elick 1969; Pimenta 2002), leadership (e.g. Veber and Virtanen 2017), relations with the market economy (e.g. Bodley 1970; Killick 2005) and with non-indigenous institutions (e.g. Sarmiento Barletti 2011).

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Apiwtxa’s contemporary designs to look after life: a world in the making
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/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/10126497
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