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Editing Eden

A Reconsideration of Identity, Politics, and Place in Amazonia

Edited by Frank Hutchins and Patrick C. Wilson

Publication Year: 2010

Recent scholarship on the Amazon has challenged depictions of the region that emphasize its natural exuberance or represent its residents as historically isolated peoples stoically resisting challenges from powerful global forces. The contributors to this volume follow this lead by situating the discussion of the Amazon and its inhabitants at the intersections of identity politics, debates about socioeconomic sovereignty, and processes of place making. Editing Eden focuses on case studies from Amazonian Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador regarding the themes of indigeneity, community making, development politics, and the transcendence of indigenous/nonindigenous divides. Portraits of the Amazon emerge through an analysis of indigenous identity as a product of multiple sources, including state policies toward Amazonian populations, the views of foreign ecotourists, the agendas of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and accounts of journalists. At the same time, indigenous and nonindigenous Amazonians challenge the representations constructed for and about them by integrating anthropologists and other nonlocals into their reciprocal systems of gift giving, or by utilizing NGO or ecotourist dollars to support their own cultural agendas. Editing Eden offers insights from leading anthropologists of the region, providing perspectives on the Amazon beyond the counterfeit paradise but short of El Dorado.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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p. iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

This book is the product of considerable hard work by numerous individuals. Without their assistance this project would have been far more difficult and substantially less rewarding. Our first debt goes to the anthropologists who contributed to Editing Eden. These accomplished scholars greeted our proposal enthusiastically, and they made this book what it is through the quality of their work and their intellectual commitment. The common themes that emerge in these...

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pp. xi-xxxi

Editing Eden traditionally has been the job of utopian visionaries, and modesty dictates that we qualify our title at the outset. The Eden around which this book is built, the great basin of Amazonia, certainly has drawn many toward excess — an excess of superlatives, an excess of embellishment, and an excess of drama. Travel writing becomes ...

Part 1: Myth, Meaning, Modernity, and Representation

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1. Indigenous Capitalisms: Ecotourism, Cultural Reproduction, and the Logic of Capital in Ecuador’s Upper Amazon

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pp. 3-37

The finger points at me, indicating that I’m now expected to sling a drum over my shoulder, beat out a rhythm, scoot around the wooden floor, and initiate a courtship dance with a Kichwa woman on the other side of the room. It’s all part of a cultural presentation on the last night of a student trip to Capirona, an indigenous community involved in...

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2. Fractal Subjectivities: An Amazonian-Inspired Critique of Globalization Theory

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pp. 38-69

Anna Tsing (2004), like many other current theorists, has been writing innovative things about globalization. Her recent book problematizes “scale” in a way that questions the local/global dichotomy through the trope of “friction.” Her work joins that of many others complicating anthropology’s traditional focus on the local by shifting more focus to...

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3. The Portrayal of Colombian Indigenous Amazonian Peoples by the National Press, 1988–2006

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pp. 70-105

In this chapter I examine articles published in Colombia’s two national daily newspapers on the country’s Amazonian indigenous communities. I explore the ways the journalists and photographers working for El Espectador and El Tiempo construct the differences between indigenous Amazonians and the country’s nonindigenous citizens, ...

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4. Cannibal Tourists and Savvy Savages: Understanding Amazonian Modernities

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pp. 106-123

The ideological construction of indigenous peoples as obstacles to “progress” in public discourse, the media, and anthropological writings has served to enable and encourage violence against them. From the initial charges of cannibalism made against Amazonian peoples in the sixteenth century, there has been a continuous external discourse on...

Part 2: Ethnopolitics, Territory, and Notions of Community

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5. For Love or Money?: Indigenous Materialism and Humanitarian Agendas

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pp. 127-150

The uneasy tension between friendship and material giving is an uncomfortable aspect of personal relations between native Amazonians causes. Do they like me, or do they just like what I can give them? is a recurring question for many of the aid workers, teachers, health personnel, anthropologists, activists, and others who approach...

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6. Alternative Development in Putumayo, Colombia: Bringing Back the State through the Creation of Community and “Productive Social Capital”?

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pp. 151-190

In July 2003, when I was conducting fieldwork in the department of Putumayo in Colombia’s Western Amazon, I was invited by the director of Vida y Futuro, an NGO headquartered in the Andean region, to visit “the biggest and most high-tech alternative development project, an agro-industrial project that has become a model to be replicated.” ...

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7. Normative Views, Strategic Views: The Geopolitical Maps in the Ethnic Territorialities of Putumayo

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pp. 191-217

In Putumayo, a colonization frontier in the southwestern Amazon of Colombia, the proliferation of demands for ethnic recognition propitiated by multicultural policy has posed a challenge for the institutions that handle state ethnic policies. These institutions attempt to maneuver in the midst of three related circumstances: the constant increase...

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8. Indigenous Leadership and the Shifting Politics of Development in Ecuador’s Amazon

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pp. 218-245

In early 1998 I walked into the usually tranquil offices of the Federation of Indigenous Organizations of Napo, now renamed the Federation of Kichwa Nationalities de Napo (FONAKIN), as I did almost every morning, only this time to find a bustle of activity. The president of the Federation, Mariano Huatatoca, enthusiastically greeted me. It wasn’t...

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9. Worlds at Cross-Purposes

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pp. 246-259

What do chapters 5 through 8 have in common? Beyond the obvious context of interethnic relations in four South American countries, they raise issues that clearly speak to each other. Despite the diversity of local situations, one can easily detect the pervasive concern with goods, territories, and ethnic identity. With these three elements in...


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pp. 261-264


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pp. 265-273

E-ISBN-13: 9780803228313
E-ISBN-10: 0803228317
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803216129
Print-ISBN-10: 0803216122

Page Count: 306
Illustrations: 5 illustrations, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 794925417
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Editing Eden

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Latin American studies.
  • Amazonia.
  • Amazon River Region -- Politics and government.
  • Amazon River Region -- Social conditions.
  • Amazon River Region -- Economic conditions.
  • Culture and globalization -- Amazon River Region.
  • Indians of South America -- Amazon River Region -- Public opinion.
  • Social capital (Sociology) -- Amazon River Region.
  • Public opinion -- Amazon River Region.
  • Indians of South America -- Amazon River Region -- Ethnic identity.
  • Indians of South America -- Amazon River Region -- Government relations.
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