PANEL 01: Urban Imaginaries in Native Amazonia

PANEL 01: Urban Imaginaries in Native Amazonia: Tales of Alterity, Power, and Defiance

SALSA XII Sesquiannual Conference – Vienna, 2019


Urban Imaginaries in Native AmazoniaOrganizers:
Fernando Santos-Granero, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Emanuele Fabiano, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú – PUCP, Peru

Chairs: Fernando Santos-Granero, Emanuele Fabiano
Discussant: Jonathan D. Hill, Southern Illinois University – Carbndale, USA

The powerful allure that big cities have exerted, and continue to exert, over the imaginaries of native Amazonian peoples has transformed these places into models for the representation of extreme alterity under the guise of extraordinary, other-than-human worlds. Indigenous mythical and cosmological discourse has peopled the land with underground cities, subaquatic metropolis and celestial towns that are normally invisible to lay people. These urban settings are characterized by a strong identification with the symbols of the highly urbanized and industrial national societies of which native Amazonian peoples form part. They often include elements regarded as being emblematic of city life: streets, cars, stores, banks, hospitals, and high rises. They are places characterized by the abundance of consumer goods, money, complex technologies, bizarre alimentary customs, and alien –often contrary– social and political forms of organization; places whose urban structure, architecture and metropolitan practices are no longer mere narrative props, but the means to convey indigenous concerns about the nature of power and alterity, but also of domination and defiance. In a juncture where increasing numbers of native Amazonians are moving to large towns and cities, the study of these urban imaginaries is not a mere exoticizing ethnographic endeavor, but an academic imperative. Through the systematic analysis of these urban imaginaries as represented in myths, cosmological discourse and narratives of personal experiences, we seek to understand the reasons for their widespread diffusion as well as their possible meanings.

Panel Schedule

Thursday, 27 June, WMW Forum
Session 1
13:50 14:10 Daniela Peluso. A tale of three cities: power relations amidst Ese Eja urban imaginaries.
14:10 14:30 Natalia Buitrón-Arias. Cities of the Forest: A Utopia that Averts Thousand Dystopias or Power through Urbanization among the Shuar of Ecuadorian Amazonia.
14:30 14:50 Robin Wright. “Cities” in the Hohodene Cosmos: Spaces of Alterity and Power as Exegetical Tools in Mythic Narrative.
14:50 15:10 Emanuele Fabiano. Arboreal City-States, Phyto-Warfare, and Dendritic Societies: An Urarina Metropolitan View of the World.
15:10 15:30 Questions
Session 2
16:00 16:20 Peter Gow. “Work Colleagues, Neighbors and Friends”: The Existential Projects of Urban Dwellers in Peruvian Amazonia.
16:20 16:40 Adriana Queiroz Testa. Ambivalent liaisons with(in) the city and beyond: alterity and power among the Guarani Mbya.
16:40 17:00 Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen. Parallel narratives and relationality lost in modern urban Amazonia.
17:00 17:40 Extended period of Questions
Friday, 28 June, WMW Forum
Session 3
9:30 9:50 Philippe Erikson. “Originally, Riberalta was called Xëbiya and it was ruled by Mawa Maxokiri…” Urban Imaginaries and Urban Migration among the Chacobo (Beni, Bolivia).
9:50 10:10 Fernando Santos-Granero. The Deep Roots of Southern Arawak Urban Imaginaries: Tales of Alterity in the “Longue Durée”.
10:10 10:30 Questions
10:30 11:10 Comments by Jonathan D. Hill


SALSA 2019 Panels