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Title:Sumak kawsay as generative of a new indigenous identity in the Amazonian region of Ecuador
Author(s):Hughes, Mark
Advisor(s):Orta, Andrew
Contributor(s):Szremski, Katherine Ann
Department / Program:Latin American & Carib Studies
Discipline:Latin American Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
ai cofan
Abstract:The concept of sumak kawsay, a Kichwa phrase roughly translatable into English as “good living,” served multiple functions during the latter half of the twentieth century in Ecuador. It served as a shorthand expression of an alternative mode of social organization premised on local community values and a harmonious relationship between humans and nature. As such, it was a marker of opposition to the national State’s emphasis on monetizing natural resources, in particular the petroleum reserves beneath Amazonia. At the insistence of representatives of the indigenous peoples, it was inscribed in numerous places in the Ecuadorian Constitution of 2008, and even if not yet enforced by the national government, it expresses an aspiration in opposition to the State’s reliance upon the extractive industries. Its time may not have come, but its presence in the national and scholarly debate cannot be denied. Originating in the Amazonian forests, sumak kawsay served as a means for indigenous peoples to revalue their culture as they developed a new relationship with the State. It functioned as a heuristic tool that the indigenous peoples of the Amazon used to create separation for themselves from traditional negative stereotypes and to reach new accommodations with the West on equal terms. This process is shown in the experience of the Aí Cofán with the petroleum industry, and in the practices of ecotourism. In both cases, the indigenous peoples, the whites, and mestizos negotiate the terms of their relationship as co-constituents.
Issue Date:2020-05-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Mark Hughes
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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