Michael Southwood winner of Whitten Research Fund 2018

Michael Southwood winner of a Norm and Sibby Whitten Research Fund Award 2018

Michael Southwood, of the University of St. Andrews, was the winner of a 2018 Norm and Sibby Whitten Research Fund Award of US$1750, for his research “The Chitonahua: ‘Contact’ and Trauma in the Amazon.”

The Chitonahua: ‘Contact’ and Trauma in the Amazon

This project involves ethnographic fieldwork with the Chitonahua, a recently ‘contacted’ indigenous people of the South Eastern Peruvian Amazonia. The Chitonahua had been in a state of ‘voluntary isolation’ until a series of encounters with illegal loggers during the mid-1990s. Many Chitonahua were massacred during these initial violent encounters. Illness, disease, enslavement, exploitation and displacement followed. Fieldwork aims to explore what these experiences mean for Chitonahua people. Experiences of ‘contact’ are clearly difficult for indigenous people. Furthermore, ‘contact’ is a complex and problematic topic, theoretically and politically. The project engages with the difficult and ongoing debates within the region.