History, kinship and comunidad : learning to live together amongst Amahuaca people on the Inuya River in the Peruvian Amazon
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This thesis examines the processes through which Amahuaca people began living in Native Communities where they have legal titles to land, and are organized through the ‘corporate’ body of elected officials mandated by Peruvian law. The thesis focuses on the period beginning in 1953 when the Summer Institute of Linguistics established the first mission among Amahuaca people at the headwaters of the Inuya River in Eastern Peru. This initiated a period of continuous contact between Amahuaca people and wider Peruvian society. By taking a historical approach to understanding contemporary life among Amahuaca people, the thesis engages with the problem of how they have come to understand their past and how this is expressed today. The primary narrative is that through their engagement with the Summer Institute of Linguistics, Amahuaca people have learned to live together. This notion of living together stands in sharp contrast to the ways they often appear in the literature, which focuses on the lack of large villages and any overarching social and political organization. Through an analysis of the transformations Amahuaca people have undergone as a result of their decision to participate in the SIL’s project, the thesis challenges this notion of lack and sets out an alternate way of perceiving of Amahuaca sociality. The analysis begins with a series of collective ceremonies in the 1960s, which were the only moments when Amahuaca people were said to coordinate activities at a level beyond the extended family. Taking this as an entry point, the thesis tracks the movement of a specific group of families through time and space to explore the types of relationships they were engaged in during this period of massive change. The overall aim is to locate continuities in the ways Amahuaca people relate with one another and the wider world to better understand how processes of transformation might be understood as the outcome of particular relationships people made over the past half-century. Today, the same families who lived in the first mission are spread out from the headwaters of the Inuya and Mapuya Rivers to the provincial capital of Atalaya. The overarching narrative of becoming civilized is given geographic significance based on this movement from the headwaters to the larger rivers and towns; however, most of these families reside in one of two Amahuaca Native Communities (Comunidades Nativas) located near the midpoint between these two poles. One of the major themes of the thesis is to understand how people negotiate living together in a Native Community as a formulation of becoming other. Transformation, Native Community, Peruvian Amazonia, Government, History, Amahuaca, Sociality, Missionization
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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