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Humanities 2016, 5(3), 60; doi:10.3390/h5030060

Saving the Other Amazon: Changing Understandings of Nature and Wilderness among Indigenous Leaders in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33199, USA
Academic Editors: Karen L. Thornber and Tom Havens
Received: 4 February 2016 / Revised: 11 April 2016 / Accepted: 13 April 2016 / Published: 15 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Indigeneities and the Environment)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [208 KB, uploaded 15 July 2016]

Abstract

This article examines a new set of policies embraced by indigenous leaders in the Upper Napo region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, driven, in part, by a growing appreciation for “wilderness” —large areas where humans exercise a very light touch. In the past few years, leaders have pursued wilderness conservation initiatives while simultaneously promoting petroleum extraction in their own backyards. Both political positions run counter to those pursued in previous decades, when opposition to both oil development and strict forms of conservation within their territory was strong. To address this reversal, I trace some of the development interventions and North-South collaborations that have contributed to the emergence of “nature” as a meaningful imaginary for Amazonian indigenous leaders and for a new generation of young people, drawing connections to William Cronon’s critical analysis of how wilderness conservation became a priority in the United States. I conclude that more than two decades of conservationist interventions in the Upper Napo region have led to some largely unintended consequences, as Amazonian leaders increasingly subscribe to Northern environmentalists’ romanticization of “the Amazon” as a wild place, one that therefore must be distant from the places where they work and live. View Full-Text
Keywords: indigenous peoples; Amazon; wilderness conservation; Kichwa; Ecuador; NGOs; development; landscape perception indigenous peoples; Amazon; wilderness conservation; Kichwa; Ecuador; NGOs; development; landscape perception
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Erazo, J.S. Saving the Other Amazon: Changing Understandings of Nature and Wilderness among Indigenous Leaders in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Humanities 2016, 5, 60.

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