Plants that speak and institutions that don’t listen

A few years ago I wrote a chapter for a book edited by Michel Pimbert with the title ‘Food Sovereignty, Agroecology and Biocultural Diversity: Constructing and Contesting Knowledge‘. The chapter is about ‘Plants that speak and institutions that don’t listen’ and features ‘notes on the protection of traditional knowledge’ and it is based in field work I did for my PhD in the Ecuadorian Amazon. It was recently brought to my attention that … …

Yachaks, knowledge, ayahuasca and protection

This is a brief extract from my thesis (more on that here), featuring an interview with a Kichwa shaman about yachaks, knowledge, ayahuasca and protection. 5.3.1 Wizards and Fighter Jets. “How do you protect your knowledge?” I asked a middle-aged yachak [‘one who knows’, plural yachakuna], a traditional Kichwa healer, wizard and community adviser, as we were preparing a large amount of ayahuasca brew, the hallucinogenic drink ‘that makes you see’, and ultimately, … …

‘Living in Napo’: a brief political economy of extraction and colonisation in the Ecuadorian Amazon

This is a presentation of Chapter 3, ‘Living in Napo’, of my PhD thesis (The Protection of Traditional Knowledge in the Ecuadorian Amazon: A Critical Ethnography of Capital Expansion, 2010), which is a brief political economy of extraction and colonisation in the Ecuadorian Amazon. It contextualises my fieldwork (2005-2008) in the Napo region, as well as the key focus of my research in that period, a participatory bioprospecting project. “Antes los gringos decían … …

Awakkuna: Knitting for conservation in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Title: Awakkuna: Knitting for conservation in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Abstract: Crafting certain essentials of everyday and celebratory life (baskets, clay pots, carrying and fishing nets, tools, jewellery and ornamentation) has been—and in certain cases still is—a fundamental aspect of Napo Runa (Amazonian Kichwa of the Upper Napo River, Ecuador) subsistence and conviviality. Making ‘artesanias’ for sale has, for many families, become a key aspect in a bundle of livelihood strategies which confirms cultural … …

‘More-than-sustainable’ cultural forests of Amazonian pasts

Title: ‘More-than-sustainable’ cultural forests of Amazonian pasts: The other side of the anthropocene and the future human habitat. Abstract: The anthropocene, despite contested meanings and definitions, tends to imply a ‘negative impact human social metabolism’. On the basis of a nascent action research project on ancestral chakras (traditional forest garden systems) in the Ecuadorian Amazon with Napo Runa (lowland Kichwa) communities, I explore ‘the other side of the anthropocene’ in the praxis of … …

Kichwa community leader on pandemic

This is a low resolution video, recorded and sent by phone from the Upper Napo region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, by Patricio Andi, who is a community leader. It does not have very good audio, but that should not detract from the otherwise clear and important message. It is provided for general interest and as part of a collection of reference material for an article in The Conversation titled ‘How indigenous people in … …

Kichwa midwife on corona pandemic

Below you find four low resolution videos – recorded on and sent by phone – in which Ofelia Salazar, Presidenta of AMUPAKIN, talks about the pandemic from her perspective, living in a road-accessible community of the Upper Napo region of the Ecuadorian Amazon. She speaks in Spanish. In time we will create subtitles for these videos and also provide transcripts. It is provided for general interest and as part of a collection of … …

Pandemic in the Amazon

This is an expanded version of an article I co-wrote with John Martin Pedersen, which appeared in The Conversation ‘How indigenous people in the Amazon are coping with the coronavirus pandemic‘. This expanded version includes several paragraphs that did not meet editorial approval. We also collect additional reference material here, especially statements and messages directly from the Amazon (particularly Ecuador and Peru) which were shared with us specifically for this purpose. This is … …

Green transition friction in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Title: Green transition friction in the Ecuadorian Amazon This is a talk (or guest lecture) I was invited to give at Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales as part of their MSc Sustainability and Behaviour Change in January 2020. It is primarily based on field work done during two fellowships between 2016 and 2019 and draws on my research and collaborations with Amazonian peoples since 2005: Independent Social Research Foundation Fellow, Oxford … …